Brando burst into film and gave acting a new style (method) for the next half a century. He seemed to embody smoldering angst, threatening to burst open at any moment in a volcano of emotion, yet on the surface he appeared confident enough that he 'had the world on a string'. He became an icon to the nation in the biker movie The Wild One (1953), photo rt. and dig the high-heels, as leader of a motorcycle gang that takes over Hollister, Ca. When a local asks, "Hey, son, what are you rebelling against?", Brando replies "what cha got?". He then dazzled everyone in A Streetcar Named Desire, yet was the only cast member of four to NOT win an Oscar, which he got a couple of years later for On the Waterfront ("I coulda been a contenda.")
He aged quite well for awhile, as his next Oscar winning role in Frances Coppola's The Godfather (1972) proved. After that he became the unofficial taster for Haagen-Daas, and showed up for Apocalypse Now! in 1979 so overweight that Coppola had to shoot him at night and mostly just head shots. He did make a film comeback as a parody of his godfather role in The Freshman, a comedy in which he played a mafia don to Matthew Broderick's title role.
You get one actor of this magnitude in your lifetime, and you don't realize it until there's just no one as 'large' half a century later. It's almost as if he escaped from the big screen and descended into our lives like the characters in Woody's Purple Rose of Cairo, becoming part of the cultural lexicon. I suppose a lot of Brando's strength came from his good looks, and not from his script selection as his early career was never matched again for the power of those films.
He even did a musical about gangsters, Guys and Dolls (above rt.), with Frank Sinatra, and his singing wasn't too bad; then a pedestrian remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, which featured his Polynesian wife as his romance in the movie (see below).He later OD'd by "hoggin the daas" (as Apu said in the Simpsons), had to have his stomach pumped, and said "I'm beyond my art, and sex, all I have left is my gluttony."
The photo left is from The Godfather, during which Brando stuck marbles in his cheeks to help make that voice. The photo right is from his early days as an acting student in New York at Actor's Studio.
[After seeing the early Brando pictures, I decided to not ignore male beauty on this blogsite in spite of its title, so expect more film gods: Paul Newman, Burt Lancaster, Brad Pitt, Hrithik Roshan from India, maybe even Valentino!]