He was one of the most admired actors in the history of the movies.
Marilyn Monroe called him “the sexiest man” she had ever seen. And if you watch his early, incredible performances in “On the Waterfront” (1954), “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951), “The Wild One” (1953), “The Men” (1950), and my favorite Brando film “Guys and Dolls” (1955), you can see an almost-perfectly proportioned, sleek-looking, brilliant actor.
But even in these very early days of his movie career, the great Marlon liked his chow.
Actor Richard Erdman, a fellow actor in “The Men” (Brando’s first film), says Marlon’s diet at the time consisted of “junk food, take out, and peanut butter”, which he consumed by the jarful.
By the mid-fifties, Marlon had become renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and Cinnamon Buns, and washing his sweet treats down with a quart of milk.
Close friend, Carlo Fiore, said Marlon would go on extreme crash diets in the fifties and sixties, but then would lose his willpower.
He would subsequently gorge on huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in maple syrup. (One of Brando’s nicknames for himself was “Branflakes”.)
Carlos Fiore would be dispatched by Brando’s directors to fetch him out of local coffee shops.
The late Karl Malden, a close friend, said that during the shooting of “One Eyed Jacks” (1961) Brando would eat “two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode, and a quart of milk” for dinner.
This diet necessitated the constant altering of his costumes during filming.
Because of this, at his birthday party that year, the crew gave Marlon a belt as his present with the card, “Hope it fits”.
His birthday cake was labelled “Don’t feed the director” (Brando was the director of “One Eyed Jacks”).
John Hodiak and Tallulah Bankhead in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.
Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive
Lifeboat opens with the fog over the North Atlantic parting and a solitary Connie Porter (Talluah Bankhead) appearing in a lifeboat – the setting for the remainder of the film.
Following an attack on a civilian ship by a German U-Boat, drifting survivors (a woman with a baby, ship-hands, an industrialist, an unknown foreigner) one by one start to fill the boat.
What follows is a tightly wound claustrophobic drama of conspiracy, deception and mistrust amid the backdrop of the second world war.
Hitchcock’s cameo appearance is an image on a newspaper drifting past the lifeboat after the ship goes down
Although it was Hitchcock who conceived the film’s central idea, it was John Steinbeck who, at the director’s request, expanded and moulded the story into the tale that was filmed.
However, Steinbeck took exception to the negative portrayal of some of his characters and requested that his name be removed from the film completely (a request ignored by Fox).
The story of how the survivors fare with an enemy among them makes for tense and gripping viewing – see in particular the suicide of one of the survivors (William Bendix in a stunning role} and the deliberate drowning of another in order to conceal a secret.
It’s this tension that draws you into the film, and asks you to question yourself: what would you do if placed in that situation?
In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Eva Green, the French actress (see above) is treacherous, deadly and alluring enough to turn a polar ice cap into a cloud of steam.
Her character has a name – Ava Lord – but she might as well be called simply Femme Fatale. She is just the latest in a long line of cinematic devil women who beguile viewers as surely as they beguile their weak-willed prey.
But the femme fatale doesn’t just give audiences a delectable taste of forbidden fruit. Dr Catherine O’Rawe of Bristol University is the editor of an academic survey of the subject, Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts, and she argues that such fictional seductresses reflect society’s mixed feelings towards independent women.
“The figure of the female temptress is as old as Eve,” says O’Rawe.
“But the femme fatale as we understand it emerged in the late 19th Century, when the term was applied to a range of fin-de-siècle figures such as Salome, Rider Haggard’s She and Bram Stoker’s female vampires.
What’s striking is that these figures arose at the same time as concerns about emancipated women occupying the public sphere.”
There were similar concerns in the air during the femme fatale’s big-screen heyday. The movies have always featured wicked women: in 1915, Hollywood’s original ‘vamp’, Theda Bara, ensnared and destroyed a respectable Wall Street lawyer in A Fool There Was.
Photo: Rita Hayworth.
But it was in the 1940s that such film noir classics as Gilda, The Killers, Murder, My Sweet and Double Indemnity brought us the definitive femmes fatales: Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Barbara Stanwyck at their most hazardously alluring.
Photo: Veronica Lake
Sometimes evil, sometimes in thrall to a villainous male, the vamp in these films used her hypnotic eroticism to get what she wanted – up to and including murder.
She may have been a fantasy, says Dr Ellen Wright, a film noir specialist at the University of East Anglia, but she personified real issues.
In an unprecedented collaboration, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSAA) celebrate the past and present of Australian film with the new exhibition Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits.
Louise Lovely and Gordon Collingridge in Jewelled Nights (1925), directed by Louise Lovely and Wilton Welch.
In this classic double silhouette of the two stars, the photographer’s dramatic use of lighting highlights Lovely’s androgynous profile, while the construction and costuming of the still frames her in sharp relief to her co-star.
Jewelled Nights saw Lovely transcend her Hollywood starlet persona for her emerging identity of director, producer and dramatic lead. It was her first and only Australian film following her return from Hollywood. Only fragments of the film survive.
Photograph: John H Robinson/NFSAA
Toni Collette as Muriel in Muriel’s Wedding (1994), directed by P J Hogan.
P J Hogan’s award-winning comedy celebrates Muriel as a misfit and daydreamer determined to escape her dysfunctional family. The film introduced Collette to a global audience.
Robert McFarlane’s still is taken at a revealing moment halfway through, when Muriel is caught trying on a wedding gown for an imaginary wedding. She confesses to her friend Rhonda how much getting married means to her: ‘If I can get married it means that I’m changed, I’m a new person, [not] Muriel Heslop. Stupid, fat and useless. I hate her!’
Photograph: Robert McFarlane/House and Moorhouse Films/NFSAA
Image Credit: Photograph by Mark Parascandola via Huck Magazine.
Over the past ten years, photographer Mark Parascandola has been journeying through the heart of southeastern Spain, documenting the abandoned outposts that once played host to some of cinema’s most iconic productions.
Long regarded as one of Roger Corman’s most ambitious and poignant films, “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes” comes to Blu-ray as an impressive special edition from Kino Lorber.
Corman became a legend by overseeing production of countless low-budget horror and exploitation films beginning in the late 1950s.
What the movies lacked in budgetary aspects they more than made up for in terms of intelligent scripts and often creative technical processes that more than compensated for the skimpy budgets.
Corman’s films not only gave early breaks to a new generation of actors and filmmakers, but he also helped resurrect flagging careers of veteran actors, one of whom was Ray Milland, who stars in this film.
Milland was a Best Actor Oscar winner for the 1945 movie “The Lost Weekend” but by the 1960s his box office appeal had waned.
By teaming with Corman on “The Premature Burial” in 1962, Milland found he enjoyed acting in horror-based flicks.
They also helped him pay the bills and maintain his status as a leading man, albeit in vehicles that critics generally dismissed as “B” movies.
If Milland never became a legend through his association with horror films as Vincent Price did, his presence in these movies kept him on the radar screen and allowed him to occasionally nab fine roles in major Hollywood productions such as “Love Story”, “Gold” and “The Last Tycoon”.
Produced and Distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer (USA).
The most beloved of all screen musicals is also the most scholarly – a mock film-historical piece about the travails of a silent cinema star, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), struggling to make the transition into the talkies.
Some of the film’s choicest humour is, a little cruelly, at the expense of lofty diva Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen), who is priceless as Don Lockwood’s co-star in the preposterous The Duelling Cavalier, whose aura is destroyed by her Noo Yawk accent (“I cyan’t stan’im!”).
Gene Kelly and director Stanley Donen’s classic, and the film industry crisis it depicted, were paid due homage in Michel Hazanavicius’s brilliantly tricksy silent pastiche The Artist (2011).