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The Contender : The Story of Marlon Brando
by William J. Mann




Overview -

Entertainment Weekly's BIG FALL BOOKS PREVIEW Selection

Best Book of 2019 -- Publisher's Weekly

Based on new and revelatory material from Brando's own private archives, an award-winning film biographer presents a deeply-textured, ambitious, and definitive portrait of the greatest movie actor of the twentieth century, the elusive Marlon Brando, bringing his extraordinarily complex life into view as never before.

The most influential movie actor of his era, Marlon Brando changed the way other actors perceived their craft. His approach was natural, honest, and deeply personal, resulting in performances--most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront--that are without parallel. Brando was heralded as the American Hamlet--the Yank who surpassed British stage royalty Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson as the standard of greatness in the mid-twentieth century.

Brando's impact on American culture matches his professional significance; he both challenged and codified our ideas of masculinity and sexuality. Brando was also one of the first stars to use his fame as a platform to address social, political, and moral issues, courageously calling out America's deeply rooted racism.

William Mann's brilliant biography of the Hollywood legend illuminates this culture icon for a new age. Mann astutely argues that Brando was not only a great actor but also a cultural soothsayer, a Cassandra warning us about the challenges to come. Brando's admonitions against the monetization of nearly every aspect of the culture were prescient. His public protests against racial segregation and discrimination at the height of the Civil Rights movement--getting himself arrested at least once--were criticized as being needlessly provocative. Yet those actions of fifty years ago have become a model many actors follow today.

Psychologically astute and masterfully researched, based on new and revelatory material, The Contender explores the star and the man in full, including the childhood traumas that reverberated through his professional and personal life. It is a dazzling biography of our nation's greatest actor that is sure to become an instant classic.

The Contender includes sixteen pages of photographs.

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More About The Contender by William J. Mann

 
 
 

Overview

Entertainment Weekly's BIG FALL BOOKS PREVIEW Selection

Best Book of 2019 -- Publisher's Weekly

Based on new and revelatory material from Brando's own private archives, an award-winning film biographer presents a deeply-textured, ambitious, and definitive portrait of the greatest movie actor of the twentieth century, the elusive Marlon Brando, bringing his extraordinarily complex life into view as never before.

The most influential movie actor of his era, Marlon Brando changed the way other actors perceived their craft. His approach was natural, honest, and deeply personal, resulting in performances--most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront--that are without parallel. Brando was heralded as the American Hamlet--the Yank who surpassed British stage royalty Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson as the standard of greatness in the mid-twentieth century.

Brando's impact on American culture matches his professional significance; he both challenged and codified our ideas of masculinity and sexuality. Brando was also one of the first stars to use his fame as a platform to address social, political, and moral issues, courageously calling out America's deeply rooted racism.

William Mann's brilliant biography of the Hollywood legend illuminates this culture icon for a new age. Mann astutely argues that Brando was not only a great actor but also a cultural soothsayer, a Cassandra warning us about the challenges to come. Brando's admonitions against the monetization of nearly every aspect of the culture were prescient. His public protests against racial segregation and discrimination at the height of the Civil Rights movement--getting himself arrested at least once--were criticized as being needlessly provocative. Yet those actions of fifty years ago have become a model many actors follow today.

Psychologically astute and masterfully researched, based on new and revelatory material, The Contender explores the star and the man in full, including the childhood traumas that reverberated through his professional and personal life. It is a dazzling biography of our nation's greatest actor that is sure to become an instant classic.

The Contender includes sixteen pages of photographs.



This item is Non-Returnable.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062427649
  • ISBN-10: 0062427644
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Publish Date: October 2019
  • Page Count: 736
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.35 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

The Contender

Mercurial, feline, charismatic, sullen, progressive, brutal: actor Marlon Brando was a knot of contradictions. Passionate about social justice and civil rights, Brando could also treat the many women in his life as disposable. Hailed as a genius for his intense performances in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, Brando struggled to retain his interest in acting and refused to play the Hollywood game. Prizewinning Hollywood biographer William J. Mann masterfully captures Brando’s allure, his psychological complexity and the epic arc of his career in The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando

Mann interweaves narrative strands from Brando’s traumatic childhood through his professional ascent to build a layered portrait of his ambivalences, rages and sexuality. Why did Brando punch a fellow actor backstage in his early years at the New School’s Dramatic Workshop? A flashback to Brando’s turbulent time in military school suggests possible answers. Similarly, Brando’s fluid sexuality and active sex life (he called himself a “sex addict” long before the term was common currency) is interwoven against childhood scenes with his beloved but neglectful, alcoholic mother. 

The portrait of 1940s New York and Brando’s time at the Dramatic Workshop is particularly fascinating. Mann punctures the myth that Brando was a Method actor (someone trained in the Strasberg method) by showing how pivotal the acting teacher (and Stanislavski disciple) Stella Adler was in Brando’s life and work. Adler not only trained Brando in her technique but also took him into her culturally and intellectually progressive home, opening his eyes to art and politics. Adler’s milieu was the source for Brando’s lifelong political activism.

Subsequent chapters in Brando’s life and work are as carefully and fairly handled. Extensive interviews (with Ellen Adler, Rita Moreno, Elaine Stritch and many others) reveal Brando’s complex and often ambivalent relationships with women, his children and Hollywood. 

From Mann, Brando receives a biography every bit as compelling and powerful as his own stage presence. 

 

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