In my recent review of the HBO series “Treme“, I mentioned the Documentary Tradition class I took about two years ago. It was a class I thought would be easy and quick credit, but I eventually fell in love with it to the point I contemplated going into the field. One of the instructors was actually nominated for an Oscar in the Documentary category the year we took her class, her name is Juditch Ehrlich and she co-directed the nominated film “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsburg and the Pentagon Papers” with Rick Goldsmith. There were some really great films we watched (check out “White Light/Black Rain” about Hiroshima, it’s heavy but it’s so well executed), but I wrote my final paper on the Directing team I fell in love with that semester The Maysles Brothers (David and Albert Maysles).
They have become most famous probably for “Grey Gardens” which was a bit hard to watch, but their camera work and editing made it so engaging. They also directed the BEST Rock Documentary I’ve seen thus far “Gimme Shelter” following The Rolling Stones at their peak leading up to their tragic 1969 Altamont concert. I still have a bunch of Maysles Documentaries in my Netflix Queue, but I wanted to share one of their early works I watched on YouTube not too long ago. “Meet Marlon Brando“.
The film catches up with Brando at the height of his popularity, this film was made during a press junket in 1965 for the film “Morituri”, which Brando didn’t seem to be too fond of. This 30 minute Documentary should be required viewing for any aspiring actor or anybody who wants to be a celebrity because Brando shows you the fine art of being evasive yet engaging. I haven’t watched this in a while, but I don’t think Brando actually answers any of the interviewers questions. He certainly doesn’t talk about the movie, or his personal life, what he does is force the journalists (and the viewer) to think a little deeper than usual. He is constantly challenging them, yet he does it in such a charming way that they all end up falling in love with him and his personality.
He’s able to be a complete asshole at times, yet somehow you love him for it. Not being raised in the 60’s, this is really the first peek of Brando not in character in a film, his character here is that of an Actor trying to ditch the typical “interview” antics of a popular star and actually engaging with the journalists on a more personal level. Here he’s totally eccentric, but in his way that just makes you love him more. And this is why Brando is so cool!!!
Update: 12/6/13, The original YouTube video I had embedded was taken down. I was able to find the video from Fandor.com. Unfortunately I cannot get the EMBED code to work so just follow this link. http://www.fandor.com/films/meet_marlon_brando