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Brando: A TCM Original Documentary
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Brando - A TCM Original Documentary
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The unmistakable voice, striking good looks and eccentric personality – and the complex inner life they cloaked: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) sifts through the mystery behind one of Hollywood's most-respected and celebrated practitioners of the art and craft of acting in BRANDO, a 2007 two-part documentary which first aired on TCM in May. Piecing together performances from throughout the decades with never-before-seen footage and a series of original, in-depth interviews featuring not only a host of his Hollywood peers but also family members and childhood friends, TCM, along with The Greif Company (Steve McQueen: The Essence of Cool), has worked to unmask the man behind the exceptional talent, captivating persona and apathy (and frequent aversion) toward his profession that was Marlon Brando.

The film investigates the challenges he faced in almost every personal and working relationship throughout his life: the hatred toward his hard-to-please, womanizing father and the sadness for his alcoholic mother; the repeating pattern of determined pursuit of a woman who interested him and, once he captured her heart, the inexplicable distance and rejection that always followed; the disagreeable on-set behavior in the 1960s that led almost every major studio and prominent filmmaker to reject him until he staged a comeback with The Godfather (1972); and the rift he caused with the Academy when he sent a representative to reject his Best Actor win at the annual awards ceremony because of what he considered Hollywood's persecution of Native Americans.

But even when controversy reigned, through it all, Brando's outstanding talent and ability to mesmerize an audience was never questioned. "Before Brando, actors acted. After Brando, they behaved," Michael Winner, who directed him in The Nightcomers (1972) says in the film. "That is the difference – an extraordinary effect on the history of drama and the history of movies."

BRANDO highlights his performance in Broadway's Truckline Café, which first gained him major recognition, and the phenomenon he later created with A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) that put him over the top. The film also explores the classical acting in Julius Caesar (1953) that silenced his critics who labeled him a "mumbler," his awe-inspiring work in The Godfather and what was arguably his most intimate effort on screen in Last Tango in Paris (1972).

BRANDO, in addition to documenting his efforts on behalf of Native-American causes, also studies his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and support for the Black Panthers. In his later years, as he further lost interest in acting, his curiosity about other aspects of life only increased. The film features his efforts to develop Tahiti, including a tour of a school for marine biology he constructed that never opened its doors, as well as some of his inventions.

Accompanying the two-night premiere will be a celebration of Brando's work, including A Streetcar Named Desire; On the Waterfront (1954), which earned him his first Oscar® for Best Actor; The Missouri Breaks (1976); The Wild One (1953); Guys and Dolls (1955); The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956); and Sayonara (1957).

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