Monday, August 8, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Monday

It’s no secret that Marlon Brando is one of the best actors ever. But most people, I would wager, if asked to name one of his movies, would not hesitate in saying, “The Godfather.”

Yes, yes. Marlon Brando played Don Corleone, and did so in memorable, spectacular fashion. I would never say anything to diminish that fact.


Almost every other movie he ever made came before The Godfather, therefore reminding us all that his notoriety came before as well.

I have mentioned previously his performance in the musical Guys and Dolls, proving he could sing and be a gangster-sort at the same time. But he was known more as a tough guy, even before The Godfather. A lot of that image came from today’s film pick, The Wild One, from 1953, in which Brando plays Johnny, the leader of a marauding motorcycle gang.

Johnny is a punk, a havoc-maker wherever he rides, followed faithfully by his dozen cronies of equal toughness and love for havoc-making. There’s no rhyme or reason for the mischief. They’re like locusts, disturbing the peace in every nook and cranny of well-mannered, innocent, white-picket fenced America.

One town delays them because Johnny takes an interest in café waitress, Kathie, played by Mary Murphy. While he figures out what she’s all about, his gang gets rowdier and causes problems for the other townsfolk. It just gets worse when a rival gang shows up, lead by Chino, Lee Marvin in a small but outstanding role. All of the trouble comes to a head when a townsman is killed. Johnny is (falsely) accused and arrested.

During the course of the story, Johnny and Kathie make an impact on each other neither one expected. In Johnny, Kathie finds a terribly hurt, defensive, wounded young man. In Kathie, Johnny finds a grace he’s never experienced before. In the end, redemption is both offered and received. In an unexpected package, it’s really quite a beautiful story.

The script is simple, the acting too, but the effect is enduring. I decided quickly, I love The Wild One.

Happy Movie Watching, Dry Ground friends!

(photo by