Not many actors in the history of Hollywood have enjoyed the heights of success that Marlon Brando has. From working with Tennessee Williams on the stage, to location shoots in Manilla with Francis Ford Coppola, Brando had seen the world of storytelling unlike many others. We’re going to look back at the best movies of Marlon Brando’s career, and how his performances still influence cinema today.
Great Movies Starring Marlon Brando
15. One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Marlon Brando’s sprawling Western One-Eyed Jacks is the only film he ever directed. The picture follows Brando’s character Rio who goes in and out of jail, looking for revenge and wealth across Western America. Unfortunately, the film was not much of a success and it turned Brando off to directing entirely.
Marlon Brando Early FIlms
14. The Men (1950)
Marlon Brando’s first movie appearance was in the Post-World War II drama The Men. In the film, Brando plays a parapelegic veteran who struggles to cope with his life in a hospital bed. Brando was just twenty-six years old at the time of the release of The Men. The picture was well reviewed for bringing representations of disabilities to the screen.
Marlon Brando Seminal Films
13. The Chase (1966)
The Chase is a social-drama thriller with an all star cast. Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, and Robert Duvall star alongside Marlon Brando. The story takes place in a small town in Texas where Sherriff Calder (Brando) waits for the return of an escaped fugitive named Bubber (Redford). The picture set out to address progressive ideals of the time, like social justice and anti-mob mentality. The result was a mixed film that’s caught between Brando’s early and later works.
The Best Movies of Marlon Brando
12. Julius Caesar (1953)
The 1953 production of Julius Caesar is one of the greatest film adaptations of a Shakespeare play ever made. The film grossed nearly $4,000,000 across markets. That high gross only secured the studio a moderate profit though because of exorbitant production costs. The picture was well reviewed upon release and the praise has not ceased since then.
The Best Marlon Brando Films
11. Burn! (1969)
By 1969, Brando’s career had come under considerable fire for outlandish and disruptive behavior on set. Amidst controversy, Brando made another strange decision in choosing to star in Gillo Pontecorvo’s film Burn! rather than work with frequent collaborator Eliza Kazan on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The result of which is a well intentioned film that never found the audience reach of Brando’s earlier work or Kazan’s picture, which released the same year.
Marlon Brando’s Last Movie
10. The Score (2001)
For the better part of his late career, Brando struggled to find roles in quality films. Rather, his faltering health dominated his public opinion. But in 2001, he acted in his final film The Score alongside Robert De Niro and Edward Norton. The film was a success at the box office and audiences were happy to see the aged Brando back in a major picture, albeit in a minor role.
Marlon Brando Classic Films
9. The Wild One (1953)
It was with his performance in the The Wild One that Brando officially became America’s heart-throb. Brando plays the leader of a biker gang that mills about a small town, carrying excitement and danger with him. While there, he falls for the daughter of the local police chief. It’s not a perfect movie by any means; there’s one scene where an unarmed motorcycle kills a man. But the biker he plays named Johnny Strabler is one of Brando’s most iconic roles.
The Wild One
Great Films in Marlon Brando’s Career
8. Superman (1978)
After his lauded performance in The Godfather, Brando found himself back in demand in Hollywood. In 1978, he agreed to act in Richard Donner’s Superman film for an exorbitant price tag. In the film, he plays the supporting role of Supermans’ father Jor-El. His performance in the picture is much different than what audiences had come to expect from Brando. Nonetheless, the film did well critically and commercially.
Movies Starring Marlon Brando
7. Viva Zapata! (1952)
The Mexican Revolution epic Viva Zapata! Is one of Brando’s most iconic films. He plays Emiliano Zapata, a real life Mexican freedom fighter who sought to give land back to the people in the Southern region of Morelos. In a rare turn, it was actually supporting actor Anthony Quinn who stole the show from star Marlon Brando. Quinn, who had Mexican heritage, took home the Oscar for his performance of Emiliano’s brother Eufemio.
The Best Marlon Brando Movies
6. The Freshman (1990)
The Freshman is one of the strangest, most unique films ever made. How often does a universally praised performance inspire a satire with the same actor? Here, Brando goes back into character as The Godfather; this time in a comedic tone. The Freshman is a truly hilarious movie that all mob fans and Brando fans should see.
Top Marlon Brando Films
5. On the Waterfront (1954)
Director Elia Kazan and star Marlon Brando’s third collaboration On the Waterfront is maybe their most famous work together. Brando plays the role of a former boxer named Terry Malloy, who had to take the dive on his fighting career for a mob boss. After that, Terry works the docks on the waterfront; a place where corruption is equally rampant.
On the Waterfront
Best Marlon Brando Movies
4. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
Last Tango in Paris will forever be associated more with the controversy it created than the actual film itself. Maria Schneider’s allegations of sexual abuse against the Director of the film should not glossed over. The movie itself is a raw, powerful, emotionally charged picture and has one of Brando’s best performances. Last Tango is a film that should be seen despite the controversy. As is such with the worst moments in history, there is no justice in forgetting the past.
Last Tango in Paris
The Best Marlon Brando Movies
3. Apocalypse Now (1979)
Marlon Brando decided to team up with Francis Ford Coppola again for the film Apocalypse Now. If the production of their first film together The Godfather was a bad dream, then the production of Apocalypse Now was a full blown nightmare in an inferno. Brando didn’t help weather the storm by any means as he constantly fluctuated his weight during filming. In turn, Coppola was forced to cover Brando’s body with loose, dark clothes. Despite the barriers of production, Apocalypse Now emerged as the most acclaimed film on US intervention in Vietnam; one that has horrified and captivated audiences for forty years.
Top Marlon Brando Movies
2. The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s Mafia masterpiece The Godfather sees Marlon Brando give one of the all time great performances in cinema history. Brando initially expressed doubt about playing the part of Don Vito Corleone, not because of the imposing depth of the character, but rather the fact that he was Italian. Brando wasn’t the only person to express doubt about his role. Paramount studios forced Brando to comply with strict guidelines so his behavior wouldn’t have a negative influence on set. Although some members of production never believed the film would get finished, The Godfather released and instantly became one of the greatest films of all time.
Marlon Brando Best Performances
1. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
The original production of A Streetcar Named Desire was a Broadway play written by Tennesse Williams. Brando was cast in the leading male role. His performance captivated audiences every night the play was shown. By the time the film adaptation was released, Marlon Brando had spent nearly three years playing the character of Stanley Kowalski. Streetcar is a story that has been analyzed and dissected by critics for seventy years. The themes of feminine empowerment, social disorder, and relationship toxicity are perhaps more timely today than they ever were before. The depth of the story has made Streetcar a favorite among film critics and theater enthusiasts around the world.
A Streetcar Named Desire
These are the best movies of Marlon Brando’s incredible career. From dramas to thrillers, romances to comedies, Brando did it all, and transformed cinema in the process.If you’re looking for the next Marlon Brando to star in your production, check out our free casting sheet template for help getting started.
20 Best Robert De Niro Movies
You've got a glimpse of Brando's career. Brando's strong presence on screen has influenced so many actors both young and old. Robert De Niro's presence on screen these days is just as significant as Brando's when he was still alive. Both of these actors naturally display grit and machismo. So let's jump into De Niro's films!