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 Post subject: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:44 am 
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Prince Judah
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Charlton Heston and Marlon Brando had incredible film careers - even by the standards of the top stars in the industry. Both had elements in their filmography to be envied by other stars and it's hard to see where some parts of these could ever be surpassed. I noted a long time ago that these two stars began their film careers at virtually the same time - in 1950. But, as I studied their film histories, I realized that there were some interesting parallels - almost eerie in some cases. There were also interesting differences, of course, especially when their careers were in upswing or experienced a brief downturn.


Last edited by Chrysagon on Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparitive
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 5:45 am 
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Prince Judah
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It's also interesting to pinpoint the years where one actor suddenly became more popular while the other had setbacks. Here everyone in the Charlton Heston Forums can see these uncanny similarities and glaring divergences for themselves, as we look at their careers year-by-year:

1950: Brando's film debut in the small b&w The Men; Heston's 1st pro film, a small b&w noir Dark City

1951
: Brando becomes a big star in A Streetcar Named Desire; Heston appears in a few TV roles for Studio One

1952: Brando plays a Mexican revolutionary rebel in Viva Zapata! ;
_____ Heston plays The Savage rebel and becomes a star in DeMille's Greatest Show on Earth

1953: Brando plays Antony in Julius Caesar and a biker outlaw in The Wild One, fighting other bikers;
_____ Heston plays Andrew Jackson in The President's Lady and fights Indians in a couple of westerns

1954: Brando wins his 1st Oscar as Terry for On the Waterfront and plays Napoleon in Désirée;
_____ Heston plays a Napoleon of the Amazon in The Naked Jungle and wins cult fame as Harry in Secret of the Incas

1955: Brando tries his hand at a musical comedy in Guys and Dolls with Sinatra;
_____ Heston tries his hand at comedy in The Private War of Major Benson

1956: Brando plays a Japanese interpreter for his people in The Teahouse of the August Moon;
_____ Heston plays Moses in the huge The Ten Commandments and becomes a big star

1958: Brando plays a German soldier in the b&w war film The Young Lions, with Montgomery Clift;
_____ Heston plays a Mexican detective in the b&w crime noir Touch of Evil, with Orson Welles

1959: Brando plays a drifter in the small b&w film The Fugitive Kind (he'd turned down the Ben-Hur role);
_____ Heston is in the biggest film of the year, Ben-Hur, wins an Oscar and becomes an epic superstar

1961: Brando stars in and directs the epic western One-Eyed Jacks, he plays crook Rio;
_____ Heston stars in the epic El Cid as Rodrigo; it out-grosses One-Eyed Jacks several times over

1962: Brando stars in the epic Mutiny on the Bounty; Heston returns to comedy in The Pigeon That Took Rome

1963: Brando plays an ambassador in The Ugly American, about a civil war in a foreign land;
_____ Heston plays a soldier helping an ambassador in 55 Days at Peking, during civil war in China

1965: Brando again plays a German during the big war in Morituri, also starring Yul Brynner;
_____ Heston plays a big War Lord and an Italian in The Agony and the Ecstasy, also starring Rex Harrison

1965-1966: Heston's western is the big Major Dundee; Brando's is the small The Appaloosa
-------------- in both cases, their characters have to head down to Mexico to resolve things

1966
: Brando tries to maintain the peace (as a sheriff) in a small town in The Chase;
_____ Heston tries to maintain the peace (as a general) in the Sudan in Khartoum

1967: Brando helps a countess escape the Russians in A Countess From Hong Kong;
_____ Heston helps his orchestra escape the Germans in Counterpoint

1968: Brando plays a kidnapper in the thriller Night of the Following Day - it flops;
_____ Heston plays an astronaut in Planet of the Apes - it's a huge hit
_____ also, Brando's low point - a weird guru in Candy? Heston's high point - Will Penny?

1969-1970: Brando tries to mess things up on a Caribbean island in Burn! (Quiemada)
_________ Heston tries to keep order on the Hawaiian islands in The Hawaiians

1971: Brando is the victim of murderous kids in the spooky The Nightcomers;
_____ Heston helps kids and is the victim of murderous mutants in the spooky The Omega Man

1972: Brando's comeback and 2nd Oscar - maybe his best film - in The Godfather;
_____ Heston is in what he feels may be his worst film, a version of The Call of the Wild

1972-1973: Brando has a Last Tango in Paris; Heston is a Cardinal in Paris in The Three Musketeers

1974-1975: Brando disappears from film;
__________Heston has a couple of his biggest hits - Airport 1975 & Earthquake

1976: Brando's western-The Missouri Breaks; Heston's is The Last Hard Men - both flop

1978: Heston stars in Gray Lady Down, with Christopher Reeve in a small role;
_____ Brando has a small role in Superman, starring Christopher Reeve in the title role

1979-1980: Brando is bald in Apocalypse Now and The Formula;
_________ Heston is bearded in The Mountain Men and The Awakening

1988-1989: Heston plays a 16th-century lawyer against the king's tyranny in A Man For All Seasons;
__________ Brando plays a lawyer up against the tyranny of Apartheid in A Dry White Season

1989-1990: Heston plays a Mafia Godfather in the TV Movie Original Sin;
_________ Brando parodies his own Godfather role in The Freshman

1992: Heston appears in the unfinished epic Gengis Khan;
_____ Brando appears in the finished epic Christopher Columbus:The Discovery

1994: Brando is placed in charge of Johnny Depp to defeat his delusions, in Don Juan DeMarco;
_____ Heston is in charge of Schwarzenegger to defeat real terrorists, in True Lies, and
_____ he's also in charge of Sam Neill In the Mouth of Madness, in which it's not just delusions

1996: Brando is a crazy scientist on a tropical island wilderness in The Island of Dr.Moreau;
_____ Heston is a crazy poacher in the cold snowy wildernesss, in Alaska

1998: Brando forces two fools into a shotgun wedding in Free Money;
_____ Heston narrates Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis uses a shotgun to stop a wedding

2001: Brando helps pro thief Edward Norton with his biggest score in The Score;
_____ Heston helps pro thief Van Damme with his search for his father in The Order

2003-2004: Heston caps off his film career as Josef Mengele in My Father Rua Alguem 5555;
_____ Brando films a series of classes teaching star actors called "Lying For a Living" but passes away;
_____ the DVDs are never released; Heston's last film never gets a theatrical release, but is on DVD...


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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 10:49 am 
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Great comparison thread, Chrysagon. I really enjoyed reading that and understand the time it must've taken to writing it all. Some of the things really were, as you put it, eerie. Both of them had great and varied careers. Very ironic that Chuck made his worst film the same year Brando makes his best.

Are you a big fan of Brando as well and knew some of this by heart?

Thanks for this great read :cheers:

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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:56 pm 
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I really admire your research-output, Sir Knight. How about making a similar comparison between Heston and Peck, hey?

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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:34 pm 
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Prince Judah
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Detective Thorn wrote:
Great comparison thread, Chrysagon. I really enjoyed reading that and understand the time it must've taken to writing it all. Some of the things really were, as you put it, eerie. Both of them had great and varied careers. Very ironic that Chuck made his worst film the same year Brando makes his best.

Are you a big fan of Brando as well and knew some of this by heart? Thanks for this great read :cheers:

You're welcome, Thorn. It did take longer to write than I thought it would, as is usual for such 'research' :D . I knew some of this by heart, but as I worked on the write-up, I found out more than I knew before I started. For example, I didn't notice the similarity between A Man For All Seasons and A Dry White Season until minutes before finishing the post.

I wouldn't call myself a big fan of Brando because I've long thought that all the various references to him as the GREATEST actor of all time were overdone (for example, one description of his genius refers to how he put on a glove during a dialog scene in On the Waterfront :roll: ). But, I looked at some of his performances closely in the past couple of years and realized that he did have a natural genius for studying/copying human behavior, and for mimicking such behavior. In fact, one of my favorite Brando scenes is from one of his most poorly-received films, The Night of the Following Day, in which he yells in frustration at Richard Boone; it was such a natural, spontaneous explosion of anger, I remembered the scene well even years after first seeing it. And, as mentioned, this is from one of his poorer films.

The thing is, even Heston himself has stated for the record that Brando was the best of his generation; like many, Heston thought Brando squandered his talents during portions of his career and Brando himself has made comments about how acting is not a good profession because of all the problems in the world and etc., resulting in an overall career that was not as great as it could have been - which is why Heston had a better career during some years. But, that to me is what makes for a fascinating film history; maybe I'm more a fan of his diverse film history than of Brando himself. Here's a quote from the IMDb Brando biography where-in Heston's opinion is related:
Quote:
Charlton Heston, who participated in Martin Luther King's 1963 March on Washington with Brando, believes that Marlon was the great actor of his generation. However, noting a story that Brando had once refused a role in the early 1960s with the excuse "How can I act when people are starving in India?", Heston believes that it was this attitude, the inability to separate one's idealism from one's work, that prevented Brando from reaching his potential.


Tizzy wrote:
How about making a similar comparison between Heston and Peck?

That's not a bad choice. If I had to pick a 2nd actor to compare Heston to, it would be Peck (or Burt Lancaster).
Brando was first choice because he and Heston started in professional film at exactly the same time.
In any case, I would need to gather my wits for a few days before proceeding on the next such endeavor... :)


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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:58 pm 
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Heston was right in saying that about Brando. He was a lot more frank about him in an interview I read some time ago from Autograph Magazine. I don't have it with me at the moment, but he said that Brandon pissed him off in 1973 when he had an Indian woman declining his Oscar win for The Godfather. Heston went on to say that he didn't like how innocently Indians were portrayed in movies, they were not always so innocent and murdered whole families. The interviewer said Brando was an expert on the American Indian, which Heston doubted, and even said that he "wouldn't call Brando an expert on anything" :lol:

P.S. Bring on the Peck comparison after your well deserved rest! :cheers:

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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:20 pm 
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Prince Judah
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Detective Thorn wrote:
Heston... said that Brandon pissed him off in 1973 when he had an Indian woman declining his Oscar win for The Godfather. Heston went on to say that he didn't like how innocently Indians were portrayed in movies, they were not always so innocent and murdered whole families. The interviewer said Brando was an expert on the American Indian, which Heston doubted, and even said that he "wouldn't call Brando an expert on anything"

Placing aside their work in film and just looking over their personal attitudes and approach about things in general, Heston & Brando were polar opposites. Brando tended to make wild, even crazed statements, while Heston was always about common sense. The topic of American Indians is a good example. If one looks over various youtube videos of Brando which are available, one will get the impression that Brando was obsessed about this topic. As with many things, Brando leaned towards wild, sweeping statements on the topic. In reality, the truth about American Indians is much more sensible - there were peaceful Indians and there were also very violent, warlike Indians. It's the same with anything - things are more balanced in reality. But, Brando, as with many discussions these days, ignores one aspect to suit his own agenda.

At the same time, he seems to champion what is great & noble in life but doesn't practice what he preaches. Some of his behavior has been truly disgusting and you wouldn't believe how much hatred he poured out against other actors such as Burt Reynolds (this was in the late seventies I think). Yes, Reynolds was something of a narcissist and a tool, but in one youtube audio, Brando only just stopped short of saying Reynolds should be killed off, he was so filled with hostility. So, to me, Brando loses most of his credibility when he espouses for some cause on one hand but displays such petty, vindictive behavior on the other. Again, this is placing aside all commentary about the actual acting.

Detective Thorn wrote:
P.S. Bring on the Peck comparison after your well deserved rest! :cheers:

Will do. Thanks for the encouraging words. :thumbsup:


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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:54 am 
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Wonderful post Chrysagon, that timeline comparison of Charlton and Marlon's careers makes for fascinating reading.

Brando is my favourite actor so I have to admit a bias but a lot of his work is under-rated-he had a disastrous run of flops throughout the 60's but most of those films have a lot going for them with the only real disaster being Candy but Brando only played a cameo role so can't be blamed for that debacle!

The raw power of Brando- in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, On The Waterfront and Last Tango In Paris-is extraordinary and his performances in those films ( no pun intended regarding Last Tango!) are proof of his genius but one reason why I enjoy his work is that he made so many films that are pure entertainment movies.However those films were written off by a lot of critics as being 'unworthy' of his talent. For example, Morituri is a great WW2 spy thriller with Brando and Brynner in great form; Bedtime Story is a fun comedy with Marlon and David Niven as a great ( and surprising) double act. Unlike those 2 movies The Teahouse Of The August Moon was a big hit with the public but slated by the critics-Brando and Glenn Ford apparently hated each other but they were both superb in that film.

Heston and Brando probably had very little in common both personally and professionally but maybe they arrived at the same place despite taking different routes-both men left behind a great body of work that will be enjoyed by each new generation of film fans.


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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:40 am 
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Thanks, Mark.

Brando's power on film cannot be overstated, I agree. And, to emphasize this, his most memorable moments (to me at least) were those deceptively quiet ones. As another example, I decided to watch The Young Lions again. There is a scene where a French girl throws an accusation at Brando's German soldier as they're seated at an outdoor cafe. Brando quietly responds with "I've killed no one... no one." By all rights, it should have been a nothing scene, yet it stuck in my mind since I first watched it many years ago and a scene I now anticipate when I watch the film again. Somehow, Brando manages this complete sincerity in such scenes, without being the least bit phony or mannered.

Also, you mentioned Bedtime Story - I wasn't able to fit this one into that special comparative chronology and sort of forgot about it until you reminded me of it. While doing my research yesterday, I came across at least one comment somewhere that this was one of Brando's failures. I last saw it years ago but I remember it as being hilarious - as you say, Brando & David Niven were great in it (the remake was with Michael Caine & Steve Martin as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, one of the few eighties films that I find to be genuinely funny).


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 Post subject: Re: Heston vs. Brando - Film Career Comparison
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:43 am 
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Chrysagon, what a terrific post!
It was not only enlightening but also very entertaining - I really enoyed it.
You missed out the fact that Heston and Brando both appeared on the post-war Broadway stage with the "First Lady of the Theatre", Katharine Cornell. Brando appeared with the great Cornell in CANDIDA (April 1946) and a couple of years later Heston made his Broadway debut with Cornell in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.
Heston played Brando's role in the Lux Radio version of VIVA ZAPATA (which I own) and, exactly 50 years ago, 28 August 1963, they both campaigned for Civil Rights with Martin Luther King.


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