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An Incredible Actor
on 3 July 2011
Nearly sixty years ago, my mother took me and my brother to a matinee of The Wild One (she didn't know what she was getting into) and I have been a fan ever since. The Wild One and On the Waterfront are two of Brando's greatest films: an exceptionally talented actor before he "went strange" and before speech was overtaken by mumbles. These two films make the set worthwhile. The Ugly American is a period piece and looks both naive and wrong-headed now, with its portrayal of a "good" American diplomat in the imaginary country of "Sarkan" (a thinly-coded Vietnam), with the "Evil Commies" itching to overthrow the American-backed government. The Appaloosa (a.k.a. Southwest to Sonora) has some good moments (and some glorious scenery), but it is marked by conventions of the time (1966): to show when Brando is speaking Spanish he assumes a grotesque Mexican accent, for instance. Still, this is what westerns were. Not Brando's best, but worth a look.