Monday, April 23, 2012


I’m in an emotional state right now. My son Joshua and I just finished watching Marlon Brando’s film On the Waterfront. He’s so good, he gets to me every time.

The first time I saw the movie was in my first drama class at North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pennsylvania. I was seventeen. Our acting teacher, Mr. Woffington, had an old 16 millimeter projector, a print of the movie, and a fold out screen. I didn’t understand why, but I knew Marlon Brando was doing something on a higher level from everybody else. His acting was more natural. There were moments with the other actors in which I was conscious that they were giving a performance but with him, I believed every moment. I was fixated on the now famous scene of Brando and his brother in the taxi-cab.

For months afterward, I walked around school saying Brando’s lines, "I coulda been a contender." Some of my friends teased me about my Brando obsession and came up to me in the high school hallway and fed me Rod Steiger’s lines so I could start the "Contender" monologue and entertain them.

I know now why Brando’s performance was a demarcation that changed acting and moved movies towards more realistic and natural work. I understand The Method and see how Brando took everything, even a mistake like Eva Marie Saint dropping her glove, and put into his work without batting an eyelash. Like all great art, the emotional feeling stays with me, like I’m soaking in it, even though we finished the film a while ago.

What makes great art? Art captures truth and emotion in a natural, non-manipulative way. The true artist is genuine in their work. Brando’s acting is real and makes me feel. My eyes mist up and cloud over as I watch his redemption unfold. The true artist makes others feel.


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