Here are a couple of old capsule reviews of Marlon Brando movies, originally published on the ESFS blog back in 2008. The first film is one that I’m very relieved Mike Dub did not suggest for this festival, although it’s interesting that I specifically mentioned Brando’s “pre-Godfather down period” in my review.
By Daniel Barnes
The Night of the Following Day (1968; Dir.: Hubert Cornfield)
Inert, pretentious, would-be nail biter featuring Marlon Brando in his weird, pre-Godfather down period as a hepcat kidnapper. He pairs with Mafia hard man Richard Boone to snatch and ransom the daughter of a wealthy American businessman. I had some hope for The Night of the Following Day because of director Cornfield, who made the compelling noir The Third Voice, one of the best films I saw for the first time last year. This one’s a complete headscratcher, though, utterly devoid of any tension or purpose.
Guys and Dolls (1955; Dir.: Joseph L. Mankiewicz)
This was probably one of the last “big” musicals that I had yet to see, and it’s a very entertaining film – colorful, bright, funny, and full of catchy songs. Mankiewicz’s movie is decidedly set-bound, so despite some changes in the song selection, it’s probably not that different from seeing a high-gloss, all-star version of the stage show. Brando plays the nominal lead role of gambler extraordinaire Sky Masterson, but all of the highlights come from other performers – Sinatra’s “Adelaide”, Vivian Blaine’s dressing room number, Jean Simmon’s “If I Were a Bell”, Stubby Kaye’s “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat”. As for Brando, he’s just OK. He doesn’t embarrass himself, but you can’t help but imagine what a showstopper “Luck Be a Lady” would have been had Sinatra played Sky instead of Nathan Detroit. That said, I’m still happy that Marlon Brando made at least one singing and dancing picture while he was still young and beautiful, even if it ultimately hurt the film.