Tuesday, 24 April 2007
The Wild One
Two years before Jimmy Dean was a rebel without a cause, Marlon Brando was laying down the rebel template in 'The Wild One', a movie I have a massive soft spot for; even though it is quite rough round the ages and has dated quite badly it is still a cracking period piece.
Brando's performance is like watching a proto-Elvis but then you have to remember this film predates rock 'n' roll and is full of jazzed-up bikers rather than hepped-up rockers and then it clicks that Elvis stole his early persona from Brando's character.
It's clear that Brando took his characterisation from the African American community, his higher tone and phrasing while his swagger is mix of pimp hoodlum and man mountain, it's nice to see a leading man quite clearly a few pounds overweight; oh for the 1950s again.
Lee Marvin nearly steals the show playing opposite Marlon Brando, with a lighter performance that is driven by a drunken, mercury persona that is a nice underscore to the brooding and lead-like work of Brando.
Whether you like motorcycles or not, this is an essential and slight movie for a slice of pre-rock 'n' roll culture and an actor laying down a performance that inspired not only fellow actors but also a whole popular culture movement.