POSTED July 21 2014

Marlon Brando, intellectual

th-1Marlon Brando? Really?

Haven’t his life, sex life, innovative acting, alcoholic mother and abusive father, drug-dependent children, and countless attachments been strip-mined by so many authors that there is nothing left to extract?

With considerable skepticism I came to Brando’s Smile, Susan Mizruchi’s unexpectedly empathic and involving intellectual biography of the actor. The Boston University professor read between – and next to – the lines of the 4,000 volumes and dozens of scripts in Brando’s personal library. His handwritten marginalia reveal aspects of the man unknown to most.

“As the first biographer to have reviewed Brando’s archives,” Mizruchi reports in her eye-opening account, ” . . . I can report that Brando’s hunger for knowledge was as insatiable as his legendary appetites for women and food.” And how.

The volumes at his bedside when he died attest both to his wide range of interests and also to his subversive side. Of the former: Carl Jung’s Man and His SymbolsThe Pentagon Papers, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. The latter: Books “borrowed” from public libraries, and from his sisters and psychiatrists, and never returned.

Read the rest of my review here

The Brando moment that you can watch over and over again?


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