Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

When Marlon Brando burst onto the scene in 1951 in A Street Car Named Desire it was obvious that we were looking at an actor who was very special.

Over the years he became one of the most talented and respected stars, influencing generations of actors that followed him onto the big screen, and, like many of those working in the fifties and sixties, his work has endured.

So to celebrate the star that Marlon Brando was FemaleFirst takes a look at the essential movies that you really must see.

A Streetcar Named Desire

The role of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire, an adaptation of the play by Tennessee Williams, announced Marlon Brand to audiences and the acting world back in 1951.

While this movie should have belonged to Vivien Leigh Brando stole every scene that he was in announcing his arrival. It remains one of his most famous and memorable performances.

And what a breakthrough it turned out to be as Brando went on to be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, the picture also received a nod.

But what is so great about this movie is it has remained untarnished over time and still remains one of the best ensemble movies to ever grace the big screen.

Viva Zapata!

It seems that the industry couldn't get enough of Brando in the early years of his career as he was nominated for Best Actor three years in a row, including for his performance in Viva Zapata!

Branded an outlaw after helping Mexican peasants reclaim their stolen land, Emiliano Zapata (Brando) retreats into the mountains with his brother Eufemio (Quinn).

Then Zapata's love interest takes priority over his revolutionary activities, as he courts Josefa, who refuses his offer of marriage because he's poor and lacks standing in the community.

When he rises to the rank of general, she deems him a worthy suitor and they marry. Later Zapata becomes president, but by then, he's greatly disillusioned and ends up being used as a political pawn.

The Wild One

1954 brought yet another iconic role for the young Brando in the form of The Wild One, in the role of Johnny Strabler.

Like a swarm of insects, Johnny's motorcycle club roams the countryside terrorizing one small-town after another. His gang of forty vicious hoodlums resents discipline, challenges authority and mocks convention.

Riding into yet another township, they vandalize stores and trample private property. Meanwhile, Johnny romances Kathie, the pretty but repressed daughter of a local police officer.

But when the gang spins out of control, an innocent man is accidentally killed and Johnny becomes the scapegoat.

The film is considered the original motorcycle movie as filmmaker Stanley Kramer's movie looked at the rebellious youth of America.

But the movie did spark controversy in the UK and was banned after it was deemed to be scandalous and dangerous.

On The Waterfront

Despite all the success that had come Brando's way it was On the Waterfront that was the pinnacle of his early career as it was the movie that brought him his first Best Actor Oscar.

Brando takes on the role of Terry Malloy, an ex-prize fighter, who finds himself torn between his family and his sense of duty as he fights against union corruption in New York.

'You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it.' This remains one of movie's most famous quotes.

On the Waterfront was nominated for twelve Oscars, picking up eight including Best Picture and Best Actor, and with this Brando's legacy was complete.

The Godfather

But just when you thought that this actor couldn't pull anymore iconic role of the bag The Godfather, arguably one of the greatest gangster movies of all time, came along in 1972.

The Godfather tells an epic tale of Mafia life in America during the 1940s and 1950s. Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the family patriarch balancing a love of his family with an ambitious criminal instinct.

Coppola's masterpiece, which won three Oscars (including Best Picture) and spawned an Oscar-winning sequel (The Godfather Part II), set a new screen standard for merging blood-soaked violence with intimate family drama.

And Brando's performance was hailed as yet another classic as he once again won an Oscar, but it was an award that he refused to collect.

Last Tango In Paris

While the actor was used to controversy surrounding his work nothing compared to the uproar and fuss that came hand in hand with his 1972 movie Last Tango In Paris.

The movie, which sees a middle aged widower have a sexual relationship with a twenty year old, soon to be married, woman shook the critics and viewing public with it's sexual violence and emotional turmoil.

It was given a strong rating, with some scenes cut before it was allowed to be released in the UK, while French movie-goers queued for two hours to watch the movie.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the movie Brando was once again nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

Apocalypse Now

After the success of The Godfather filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola managed to convince Brando to return to the big screen for Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now in 1979.

With great performances from Brando, Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper Apocalypse Now is widely regarded as the greatest war movie of all time.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

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