Monday, December 06, 2010

"I coulda been a contender"

Marlon Brando, a two-time Academy Award winner, transformed the craft of acting and led peers and critics alike to hail him as the finest actor of his time.

Under the guidance of director Elia Kazan, Brando first became a star on stage — as Stanley Kowalski in the 1947 Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" — and then on screen, again as Kowalski in "Streetcar," released in 1951. He received his first Academy Award nomination for best actor for his role in "Streetcar."

Brando was nominated seven times for best actor, receiving his first Oscar for his portrayal of Terry Malloy in 1954's "On the Waterfront" and his second for Don Vito Corleone in 1972's "The Godfather." His other nominations were for "Viva Zapata!" (1952), "Julius Caesar" (1953), "Sayonara" (1957) and "Last Tango in Paris" (1973).

His eighth and last Oscar nomination was for best supporting actor in the 1989 anti-apartheid film "A Dry White Season."

From the beginning of his career, Brando voiced some of the most famous lines ever spoken in films, many of which are still part of the American lexicon.

"Streetcar" introduced the animal cry "Stell-ah!" to audiences, which Brando bellowed from the stage floor up a winding staircase. "The Godfather's" Don Corleone issued the cold threat: "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

In 1954's "On the Waterfront," Brando, who was cast as an ex-boxer-turned-mob-errand-boy, uttered perhaps the most repeated line of any American movie: "I coulda been a contender."

— Claudia Luther and Elaine Dutka in the Los Angeles Times July 3, 2004

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