The Contender

The Story of Marlon Brando

by William J. Mann

On Sale: 10/15/2019

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The Contender

The Story of Marlon Brando

by William J. Mann

On Sale: 10/15/2019


About the Book

Based on new and revelatory material from Brando’s own private archives, an award-winning film biographer presents a deeply-textured, ambitious, and definitive portrait of the greatest movie actor of the twentieth century, the elusive Marlon Brando, bringing his extraordinarily complex life into view as never before.

The most influential movie actor of his era, Marlon Brando changed the way other actors perceived their craft. His approach was natural, honest, and deeply personal, resulting in performances—most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront—that are without parallel. Brando was heralded as the American Hamlet—the Yank who surpassed British stage royalty Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson as the standard of greatness in the mid-twentieth century.

Brando’s impact on American culture matches his professional significance; he both challenged and codified our ideas of masculinity and sexuality. Brando was also one of the first stars to use his fame as a platform to address social, political, and moral issues, courageously calling out America’s deeply rooted racism.

William Mann’s brilliant biography of the Hollywood legend illuminates this culture icon for a new age. Mann astutely argues that Brando was not only a great actor but also a cultural soothsayer, a Cassandra warning us about the challenges to come. Brando’s admonitions against the monetization of nearly every aspect of the culture were prescient. His public protests against racial segregation and discrimination at the height of the Civil Rights movement—getting himself arrested at least once—were criticized as being needlessly provocative. Yet those actions of fifty years ago have become a model many actors follow today.

Psychologically astute and masterfully researched, based on new and revelatory material, The Contender explores the star and the man in full, including the childhood traumas that reverberated through his professional and personal life. It is a dazzling biography of our nation’s greatest actor that is sure to become an instant classic.

The Contender includes sixteen pages of photographs.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“An insightful and well-researched portrait of Marlon Brando. Taking a cinematic approach, Mann swoops in on pivotal moments in Brando’s life. Though sympathetic to Brando, Mann doesn’t shy away from his flaws, such as his often callous treatment of women. The result is a thoughtfully considered study of a supremely talented, observant, and imaginative man who became a reluctant cultural icon.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“In this meticulously researched book, bolstered by access to the Brando estate, Mann “attempts to see Brando’s life, career, choices, and actions in a new light.” The author describes him as a “thinker, an observer, an examiner of himself and the world, with the goal of figuring out both.” He sympathetically portrays Brando as a survivor of childhood trauma, the only son of alcoholic parents: an abusive father and a distant, neglectful mother Brando loved dearly. Throughout, Mann balances Brando’s reluctance to act with excellent insights into his finest performances. A complex, intimate, and illuminating inquiry into and defense of Brando.” - Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062427649
  • ISBN 10: 0062427644
  • Imprint: Harper
  • On Sale: 10/15/2019
  • Pages: 736
  • List Price:43.50 CAD
  • BISAC1 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Entertainment & Performing Arts

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