cover image Brando: A Life in Our Times

Brando: A Life in Our Times

Richard Schickel. Atheneum Books, $21.95 (218pp) ISBN 978-0-689-12108-1

In this highly sympathetic examination of the acting career of Marlon Brando, Time movie critic Schickel repeatedly refers to what he calls ``the illimitable promise of Brando's youth,'' as demonstrated by his roles in A Streetcar Named Desire , The Wild One and On the Waterfront . For the author's generation, which ``came of age in the years immediately after the Second World War,'' Brando represented ``something of what we aspired to be: rude and sensitive, inarticulate but painfully aware--living oxymorons, if you will.'' Refreshingly spare about the actor's tangled personal life, Schickel, however, is at pains to defend Brando's disappointing career since the '50s. The tone is set at the beginning of the book in an unctuous open letter to Brando (``I've often wondered, did you read Camus, too?'') and leads Schickel to ridicule Truman Capote for his revealing 1957 profile of Brando as well as the New Yorker for publishing it. Only when considering Brando's ``work'' in the '80s does Schickel come to the conclusion that many reached years earlier: Brando's appearances had become ``edged by contempt for both his craft and his public.'' Photos not seen by PW . (Aug.)