THE MARLON BRANDO COLLECTION
JULIUS CAESAR is probably the best adaptation of a Shakespeare tragedy to be produced by a major studio during Hollywood’s golden age. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, JULIUS CAESAR has a one of a kind cast, with a magnitude of star power. Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Louis Calhern, Edmond O'Brien, Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr, Alan Napier, Ian Wolfe and John Hoyt lend their considerable talents to this magnificent production. There isn't a single bad performance anywhere in this film. Brando is particularly brilliant. Brando's Mark Antony is among the best performances of his career (he was coached by Gielgud). I would have to rate Brando's Mark Antony a close second to his Fletcher Christian, which I feel to be his best work. James Mason is equally brilliant as Brutus. Those two performances, along with John Gielgud's Cassius, cement the intensity of this film. Set in ancient Rome, the plot of the Shakespeare tragedy is concerned with the events leading up to and following the assassination of the title character.
THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON
Based upon the book and the play, THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON is a delightful post WWII comedy about the occupation of Okinawa which stars Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford, Eddie Albert and Paul Ford. Brando is an absolute delight in one of his rare comedic roles, as a slick Japanese interpreter with a penchant for getting exactly what he wants and making it seem like someone else’s idea. Glenn Ford plays a hapless army captain assigned to teach the natives about the principles of democracy, but instead becomes caught up in the affairs of the village. Albert is the army psychiatrist with delusions of gardening. Paul Ford continues with another in a series of befuddled characters, this one, a recreation of his Broadway role.
MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY
As I stated above, Marlon Brando's performances as Fletcher Christian in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is, in this humble reviewer's opinion, his best very and remains my personal favorite amongst all of his films. Brando is utterly brilliant every moment he is on screen and one is hard pressed to take their eyes off him with his foppish interpretation of the character of Fletcher Christian. Trevor Howard also turns in an unforgettable performance as the tyrannical Captain Bligh, whose cruelty and lack of breeding eventually festers into antagonistic relationship between the overachieving commander and his aristocratic 1st Lieutenant. The plot of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY follows an ill-fated voyage of the title ship to Tahiti to transplant breadfruit trees to Jamaica, with Bligh's harsh desire to make himself look good to his superiors, eventually proving to be his undoing with the crew. The cast of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY also features Richard Harris, Hugh Griffith, Richard Haydn and Tarita.
REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE
REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE may be one of the oddest films to have so much "old school" Hollywood associated with it. Made on the cusp of Hollywood movies moving from self-censorship to the ratings system we all know and hate, REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE pushes a whole lot of buttons that films made just a few years earlier, wouldn't dare to go near. Based upon the story by Carson McCullers, directed by John Huston and starring Elizabeth Taylor, Brian Keith, Julie Harris and Robert Forster, in addition to Marlon Brando, REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE is a film that is despised by many as insufferable piece of trash, and championed by others as a brilliant, groundbreaking piece of work. Set on an Army Base in the south, REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE tells the story of the sexual obsessions and repressions amongst its core group of characters. Major Penderton (Brando) deals with homosexual urges towards Private Williams (Forster), while his emasculating wife Leonora (Taylor) carries on an affair with fellow officer Lieutenant Colonel Langdon (Keith), whose own wife Alison (Julie Harris) has retreated from him and reality. Not surprisingly, Brando never fails to amaze and Keith is also in top form.
THE FORMULA is something of a muddled conspiracy thriller that greatly benefits from the presence of Marlon Brando, that is, during the few scenes that he is actually on screen. George C. Scott is LA Police Detective Barney Caine, the nominal hero of THE FORMULA who is investigating the death of a friend that leads him into a string of murders, which he follows into the cover up of a secret with global implications. Of course, Brando’s character, Oil Company Chairman Adam Steiffel, is at the heart of a conspiracy that under that harkens back to a technology developed by the Nazis, one which has been kept hidden away since the Second World War. The cast of THE FORMULA also features Marthe Keller, John Gielgud, G.D. Spradlin, Beatrice Straight and Richard Lynch.
Warner Home Video has made all five films that comprise THE MARLON BRANDO COLLECTION ($60) in their various full screen and widescreen aspect ratios, with the widescreen films being 16:9 enhanced. JULIUS CAESAR is offered in it proper1.37:1 aspect ratio and the black and white presentation looks terrific; crisp and well defined. The film elements are well preserved and provide terrific contrast, as well as grayscale. THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON is 2.35:1 and the MetroColor elements look really quite nice, offering a good level of definition and fairly realistic colors. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY was always a stunning looking movie and the 2.55:1 proportions paint the breathtaking vistas of Robert Surtees’ Oscar nominated cinematography. Transferred from restored 65mm elements, sharpness, detail and color are all superb on this two-disc release. REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE is offered in its 2.35:1 aspect ratio and has Director John Huston’s intended color scheme. The image appears sharp and clean, while the hues have been muted and overlaid with a golden sepia tone. THE FORMULA is framed at 1.78:1 and looks really solid on DVD, with everything appearing crisp and fairly well defined. Colors are rendered at a fairly natural level and contrast is just fine. Digital compression artifacts are never a concern on any of the five films.
JULIUS CAESAR comes with a pleasing upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack the makes to most of the more than half-century-old sonic elements. There is a nice spread to the outlying channels, fidelity is respectable and the dialogue is clean. THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON features a clean sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack that gets the job done, features fully understandable dialogue and more than adequate fidelity. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds utterly marvelous for a forty plus year old film. Musical fidelity is great and the dialogue is crisp. REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE comes with a solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that is free from hiss and other anomalies, while maintaining fully understandable dialogue and decent fidelity. THE FORMULA comes with crisp and clean Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack that gets the job done efficiently. All of the films come with French language soundtracks, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus for each of the five films, which allows one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. JULIUS CAESAR includes an Introduction by TCM host Robert Osborne, a twenty minute Featurette: The Rise Of Two Legends and a Marlon Brando Movie Trailer Gallery. THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON includes Vintage Featurette: Operation Teahouse and a Marlon Brando Movie Trailer Gallery. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY comes in a two disc set that includes a New Featurette: After The Cameras Stopped Rolling: The Journey Of The Bounty, Alternate Prologue And Epilogue Sequences that were not seen theatrically, Four Vintage Featurettes: Story Of The HMS Bounty, Voyage Of The Bounty To St. Petersburg, Tour Of The Bounty, 1964 World's Fair Promo and a Marlon Brando Movie Trailer Gallery. REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE comes with Vintage Behind-The-Scenes Footage and a Marlon Brando Movie Trailer Gallery. THE FORMULA includes a running Audio Commentary by director John G. Avildsen and screenwriter Steve Shagan and a Marlon Brando Movie Trailer Gallery.
Marlon Brando was an amazing screen presence, who was interesting to watch, even when he was just showing up to collect a paycheck. Warner’s release of THE MARLON BRANDO COLLECTION includes two of the actor’s finest performances, as well as absolutely first-rate presentations for all five films. The collection comes absolutely recommended for just the inclusion of JULIUS CAESAR and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY.
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