Since the question is really simple there’s no much to explain. Many people, including some organizations, sustain that Marlon Brando has been the greatest actor of all times. What do you think?
He was very convincing when he was young, he was always caught up in small details, the kind that make a character memorable.
When he got older, he was so large that (like Welles) he usually picked very showy roles. In them, he often did odd things that were sometimes over the top (but over the top in an interesting watchable way, not ham like a Day Lewis, Brody or a Penn) but undeniable, which is in my view another way to say great.
I suppose a comparable actor is Johnny Depp who revels in little details but takes bad scripts handicapping his chance of being great.
But is he the greatest? No, I could name a number of American actors and actors outside of here who were far more consistent and believable
Depends on what type of acting we’re talking about.
“I suppose a comparable actor is Johnny Depp who revels in little details but takes bad scripts handicapping his chance of being great.”
Depp’s problem is that he isn’t able to ‘internalise conflicts’ and relate psychological depth. has nothing to do with the scripts he chooses. that’s why his best performances to be the ‘eccentric’ ones(this is even true of Ed Wood), and the worst ones tend to be where he is playing the ‘straight guy’.
Depp was wonderful in The Brave as a straight guy and Donnie Brasco as well.
Depp is taking the roles that Brando started taking toward the end, soon he wil have nowhere else to go
Brando: all power, no range. I’d be far more likely to champion an actor with both, in spades: Say, Ryan Gosling.
the Godfather to Last Tango shows some real range.
No he’snot the greatest. He’s a great star. He is almost always fun to watch. But he has a rahter limited range overall.
His performances in “Streetcar” and “On the Waterfront” were of course enormously impressive. But I’m not sure anyone who followed his lead by apeing his affectations went anywhere. (I thik James dean, for instance, was closer to Monty Clift than Brando. And Monty’s style was a very direct influence on Marlon.)
My candidate for greatest actor is Jean-Louis Trintignant.
He wasn’t so much the greatest as the first. Prior to Brando, mass film audiences didn’t have much exposure to the “Method” acting style, which has basically become modern acting. It was new and exciting; and Brando was great. Not really on board with the greatest label though.
Depp has been carrying on that tradition, but as Dennis mentioned, I fear he’s starting to coast. Still consider his Ed Wood one of the great performances of the 90’s (and its hard to go wrong with 90’s Depp.)
Range is overrated.
Z. Bart…I beg to differ regarding Brando’s range…
One Eyed Jacks
The Fugitive Kind
Reflections in a Golden Eye
Last Tango in Paris
On the Waterfront
There’s a lot of range there…and while not entirely successful (MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, BURN!), he tried myriad roles. Surely his early work outshines his 60s work, but, as Dennis B points out, he showed real range (and I’d add real power as well) with THE GODFATHER & LAST TANGO. He also made a point to work with some of the greatest directors of his time: Kazan; Logan; Lumet; Coppola; Portecova; Chaplin; Mankiewicz; Bertolucci.
I would say, as a film actor, yes, he was the greatest of his generation (I’m including: P. Newman; J. Lemmon; J. Dean; A. Perkins; A. Quinn; S. McQueen in that mix)…with others like Montgomery Clift & Robert Walker coming just before this group. I think the only comparable actors of this day are De Niro…for range, power, and just plain balls to take on things others wouldn’t (THE MISSION; BRAZIL; THE KING OF COMEDY) and Nicholson who, like Brando worked with an enormous range of directors…for seeking out and working with the likes of Antonioni, K. Russell, M. Nichols, H. Babenco, A. Penn; M. Forman; J. Huston.
To say he was the greatest ever is impossible when there’s Olivier, Clift, Garfield, Newman, De Niro, Pacino, S. Penn, Piccoli, Duvall, Hackman, Gabin, Tracy, F.March, Lon Chaney (Sr)….and so on…
the problem with method acting is that bad method acting is the worst kind of bad acting.
A lot of great actors had influences that had nothing to do with method, thank God.
my vote for greatest actor is Warren Beatty, followed by James Garner.
“he problem with method acting is that bad method acting is the worst kind of bad acting.”
Method acting isn’t as common anymore though is it?
I think Warren Beatty is one of the greatest PRODUCERS ever certainly (REDS is my favorite film). Good call on J. Garner, one of those great actors who are frequently forgotten when recalling great performances (THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, TWILIGHT, SAYONARA). I’d put the likes of Donald Sutherland, Jeff Bridges (less so now that Oscar has blessed him), Burt Lancaster, Alan Arkin, Stacy Keach in that bucket.
how about that Jaspar, Reds is in my top 3.
I have said this before, but I find Beatty’s ability to play two sides of himself (awe shucks Vriginia raised and cad) in every role he takes on (even with his variety of characters) is fascinating. He is my favorite type of actor, the type where every film seems like part of his career as a whole (in the same way that every Kerouac book seemed like one long work). Once he learned how to act (he was quite amatuerish in his early films, Roman Springs was nearly ruined by his work, tho he had great energy) he was unstoppable
Dennis B….glad to hear about REDS…I got see Vittorio Storaro present it about two years ago…he said he “no wanna work with Warren Beatty…he too much the movie star…” but then found him to be a great collaborator.
My Top 50 (these change regularly):
Numbered, but with the exception of Reds, the order is meaningless…
2. Godfather II
4. The Graduate
5. Lawrence of Arabia
6. Touch of Evil
7. Midnight Cowboy
10. The Damned (Visconti)
11. Dog Day Afternoon
13. Bonnie & Clyde
15. High Anxiety
16. Annie Hall
17. This is Spinal Tap
18. The Hospital
19. Pickup on South Street
20. The Stranger (Welles)
21. The Last Picture Show
22. Five Easy Pieces
23. Taking of Pelham 123 (orig)
24. Man with the Golden Arm
27. The Sterile Cuckoo
28. King Kong (orig)
29. A Face in the Crowd
31. One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest
33. Dr. Strangelove
34. Hope & Glory
36. Guys & Dolls
37. The In-Laws (orig)
38. Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
39. Blue Velvet
40. Savages (J. Ivory)
42. Bicycle Thieves
44. Some Like it Hot
45. Time Stands Still
46. Hour of the Wolf
49. The Manchurian Candidate (orig)
50. Rosemary’s Baby
Brando is one of the very greatest and certainly innovated a different approach to film acting. This has naturally inspired a lot of imitators and the like which irks others but the actor of ‘’On the Waterfront, Guys and Dolls, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris’’ was highly innovative.
As for “best”, for me Charlie Chaplin is the highest anyone in film acting has achieved in ‘’City Lights’‘, ’’Monsieur Verdoux’’ and ‘’A King in New York’‘. Of Brando’s generation he was the greatest.
any list with Godard and Russ Meyer is okay in my book.
Brando in Apocalypse Now was incredible. I’m really interested in Don Juan DeMarco, anyone see it?
^^yeah, don’t bother ;-)
speaking of LATE Brando…has anyone seen THE BRAVE? I got the DVD (non US of course)…his cameo is really something. That’s a movie that deserves some sort of reappraisal.
BTW…take JOKS advice…DON JUAN DEMARCO was largely unwatchable….with tubby Brando essentially playing the straight man to J. Depp & love interest to Faye Dunaway. Bob Dishy was in it though…and he’s pretty funny.
He is very understated in it Patapon.
It is light and fun, the kind of film you can like but it is hard to love (the bedroom scene with Dunaway alone makes it worth seeing, Depp slept with Dunaway too in Arizona Dream, who would have thought that Depp at in his youth would have shared a chick with Brando at his biggest)
aight I just dropped it off my netflix queue. thanks guys
btw doesn’t he play a nazi officer in a film? I forget what the title was…
don’t remember that
he plays a bible thumping gaurd in a film with Charlie Sheen called Free Money
You have to start with a definition of what great acting is in order to properly answer this question.
-But I’m not sure anyone who followed his lead by apeing his affectations went anywhere. (I thik James dean, for instance, was closer to Monty Clift than Brando. And Monty’s style was a very direct influence on Marlon.)-
I’d agree with that David, but surely “influence,” especially in terms of acting, is more diffuse than simply apeing affectations? Brando’s success (as well as Clift’s) went a long way toward legitimizing the Strausberg/Adler/Meisner approaches to acting for Beatty and De Niro and Pacino and Hoffman and Robert Duvall and James Caan and many others who came along later, even if they weren’t exactly doing what Brando was doing in terms of exteriority.
In ROOTS (the Next Generation), Brando played George Lincoln Rockwell, the American neo-Nazi. Rockwell was famously interviewed by Alex Haley for Playboy magazine.
@Joks: your description of Depp is excellent:
“Depp’s problem is that he isn’t able to ‘internalise conflicts’ and relate psychological depth. has nothing to do with the scripts he chooses. that’s why his best performances to be the ‘eccentric’ ones(this is even true of Ed Wood), and the worst ones tend to be where he is playing the ‘straight guy’.”
I’ve always wanted to like his performances more, because he is smart and makes good choices etc, but IMO his face does not read it is blank and not mysterious (perhaps Bresson would have loved him!). All that said, I think he is still an excellent actor, and he is best when his performance is “busy” for lack of a better word.
“My candidate for greatest actor is Jean-Louis Trintignant.”
I am still happily under the illusion that Jean-Louis Trintignant IS that character in “My Night at Maud’s” despite the fact that I’ve seen “The Conformist”
Almost Keatonesquely so, yeah.
Thank you, Jaspar Lamar, on arguing for Brando’s ‘range’ — I didn’t know if it was possible for my eyes to roll back any further into my head. (Plus you have a good list of favorites. We could be friends).
RE-watch On the Waterfront, then Reflections in a Golden Eye, then Last Tango in Paris, and then let’s discuss ‘range,’
Brando was a force but his affectations grow tiresome and every scene had to be about HIM. Cary Grant, James Stewart, Dana Andrews and many others were far better cinema actors.