Even though by the end of the 1950s Marlon Brando was a bigger box-office draw than John Wayne, and he was already credited with changing the nature of American film acting, the movies he made in the 1960s seem to have fallen by the wayside of movie history. As American cinema transitioned into the Second Golden Age of the late 1960s and 1970s, broad changes in style, tone, and business structure occurred. Far from falling out of step with the changing culture, though, Brando seemed to have precipitated it with the intensity of his performances and his explosive sexual power, which helped to crack the authority of the Breen Office and the long-standing Hollywood Production Code. His descent into relative artistic obscurity can’t be explained by time passing him by. His plummeting popularity in the 1960s is further complicated by his artistic and popular resurgence in The Godfather in 1972.
So, what happened to Brando in the 1960s? Throughout March, Mike Dub will present ESFS Film Festival #2: Brando in the Dark Ages (1961-1969). We will watch and discuss a sampling of Brando’s work taken from three distinct periods of the 1960s. First, we will watch One-Eyed Jacks, the only film Brando directed, released in 1961 at the apex of his star power. Second, we will watch The Chase, directed by Arthur Penn and released in 1966, smack in the middle of Brando’s nose-dive. And finally, we will watch the 1969 film Burn!, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, Brando’s final film of the 1960s and the first after his completion of a long contract with Universal Studios.
Are these films underappreciated gems, or have they been culturally shelved for a reason? Find out with us.
March 10 – Introduction
March 12 – One-Eyed Jacks review
March 17 – The Chase review
March 24 – Burn! review
March 28 – Conclusion