Brando's Burgeoning Career

     Since Elia Kazan's 1951 version of Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire, actor Marlon Brando has had a long and illustrious film career.

     According to the Internet Movie Database (, this was Brando's second role in a movie, after the 1950 The Men. Watching Brando in Streetcar was like watching a rookie basketball player; his talent was raw; but one saw potential.

     Of course, Brando's career blossomed; and he developed into a wide-ranging actor. He had major roles in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 The Godfather and 1979 Apocalypse Now. In the highly successful The Godfather, Brando played the quiet-voiced, yet tight-fisted Don Vito Corleone; and, in Coppola's troubled late 1970s movie, Brando played Col. Walter Kurtz.

     Having viewed The Godfather and Apocalypse Now before Streetcar, I saw what Brando turned into after twenty-plus years of being in movies. He was a little heavier than his well-built figure in Streetcar; and, with that came more of a lazier role, perhaps brought on by his weight, perhaps brought on by the roles he acted.

     Even with the different roles, it is apparent through watching those two Coppola movies that Brando had developed as an actor. He was the perfect actor for Streetcar; he had a well-developed body and the voice to be the bum and the roughhouser in that movie. He was older and a little heavier, so he was perfect for the role of the Don in The Godfather, the head of a crime family who mostly calls the shots from behind a desk or in the security of his house. Seven years later he was suited for the role of Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, who played a lazy, wrongdoing colonel being hunted down by Martin Sheen's character.

     To attain an Academy Award nomination in his second film is an astonishing feat, but it was apparent that Brando had a long way to go in his acting career. Many people say that, when one starts out at the top, there is nowhere to go but down. In Brando's case, he started out near the top, and his career skyrocketed, as did his weight.

Greg Stark

Table of Contents