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)

One-Eyed Jacks Trailer

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.


One-Eyed Jacks

  • Fun Fact:  Stanley Kubrick was originally the director of the film but was fired early into production.
  • Tomatometer: 53 %
  • Where to watch

Marlon Brando Early FIlms

14. The Men (1950)

I'm a bad patient

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.


The Men

  • Fun Fact: The film was shot on location at the Birmingham Military Hospital in Van Nuys, California.
  • Tomatometer: 77%
  • Where to watch

Marlon Brando Seminal Films

13. The Chase (1966)

The Chase Trailer

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 Chase

  • Fun Fact: Mrs. Briggs in the film is played by Jocelyn Brando, Marlon Brando’s older sister.
  • Tomatometer: 83%
  • Where to watch

The Best Movies of Marlon Brando

12. Julius Caesar (1953)

Julius Caesar Trailer

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.


Julius Caesar 

  • Fun Fact: James Mason (Brutus) was so upset with how domineering Brando’s performance was, he asked the director to intervene so as to keep Brando from stealing his thunder.  
  • Tomatometer: 95%
  • Where to watch

The Best Marlon Brando Films

11. Burn! (1969)

Burn! Trailer

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.



  • Fun Fact: In his memoir, Marlon Brando said that he did some of his best acting in Burn! 
  • Tomatometer: 85%
  • Where to watch

Marlon Brando’s Last Movie

10. The Score (2001)

Well, okay, hope she's worth it

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.


The Score

  • Fun Fact: Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro share a scene together in the film. Both actors played Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, respectively. 
  • Tomatometer: 73%
  • Where to watch

Marlon Brando Classic Films

9. The Wild One (1953)

Johnny, I love you

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

  • Fun Fact: Marlon Brando is on the cover of The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  in character as Johnny Strabler.
  • Tomatometer: 95%
  • Where to watch

Great Films in Marlon Brando’s Career

8. Superman (1978)

You will make my strength your own

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.



  • Fun Fact: According to the films Producer Ilya Salkind, Marlon Brando originally proposed that his character could appear as a box or a green bagel rather than his human self.
  • Tomatometer: 94%
  • Where to watch

Movies Starring Marlon Brando

7. Viva Zapata! (1952)

Viva Zapata Trailer

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.


Viva Zapata!

  • Fun Fact: After Zapata’s death, rumors spread saying that he disappeared into the mountains. This is portrayed in the film by the white horse, who escapes capture and disappears into a mountainside. 
  • Tomatometer: 65%
  • Where to watch

The Best Marlon Brando Movies

6. The Freshman (1990)

The Freshman Trailer

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.


The Freshman

  • Fun Fact: While on a lunch break during production, Brando ran into crime boss John Gotti at a restaurant. Brando said he performed a magic trick that Gotti didn’t like and then he was kicked out of the restaurant.
  • Tomatometer: 93%
  • Where to watch

Top Marlon Brando Films

5. On the Waterfront (1954)

I coulda been a contender

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

  • Fun Fact:  The film was based on a 24-part news report by writer Malcolm Johnson, who won The Pulitzer Prize for his work.
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Where to watch

Best Marlon Brando Movies

4. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

You lied to me and I trusted you

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

  • Fun Fact: Marlon Brando littered the sets with cue cards to remind himself of his lines during shooting.
  • Tomatometer: 84%
  • Where to watch

The Best Marlon Brando Movies

3. Apocalypse Now (1979)

The horror!

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.


Apocalypse Now

  • Fun Fact: Martin Sheen’s brother Joe Esteves, filled in for him in many scenes as Martin had suffered a heart attack during production. 
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Where to watch

Top Marlon Brando Movies

2. The Godfather (1972)

I don't apologize to take care of my family

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.


The Godfather

  • Fun Fact:  Mario Puzo, the author of the original Godfather book, was the first person to suggest Brando play the leading role.
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Where to watch

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

  • Fun Fact: Anthony Quinn replaced Brando as Stanley Kowalski later in the shows run.
  • Tomatometer: 98%
  • Where to watch

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!

Up Next: Best Robert De Niro Movies →
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  • Chris Heckmann is a Professor of Media & Communication at Roger Williams University and graduate of UCLA’s Cinema & Media Studies Master of Arts program. When he’s not writing or teaching, he’s probably playing video games (or thinking about the next great Boston sports trade).

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