The two disc, Special Edition Mutiny On the Bounty makes this set.
Some of the films in this collection aren't that great and don't feature the Master Thespian at his best.
The Marlon Brando Collection features this iconic actor in 5 movies that show the way his range could vary. The films in the collection are:
Mutiny On the Bounty
Reflections in A Golden Eye
The Teahouse of the August Moon
The Formula is a later film in Brando's career (he isn't the star of it and by this time had moved into full character mode) that looks at a the corrupt actions of the oil industry. Mutiny On the Bounty is probably the one classic in this set, and that is why it got the biggest and best treatment out of all the other DVDs. Brando embodies the character of Fletcher Christian who's war with Captain Bligh is carried out over the high seas. Brando is Antony in Julius Caesar which does it's best to examine the friendship and ultimate betrayal between these two Roman icons. Reflections in A Golden Eye sees Brando and Elizabeth Taylor follow their passions through the locale of a Georgia Army base. Lastly, in probably one of the weirdest performances of his career (or even Hollywood History), Brando plays an interpreter in post-World War II Okinawa in The Teahouse of the August Moon. The tension starts when he defies authority and becomes hellbent on building a teahouse.
All in all, this is an eclectic mix of films from one of America's best performers. The Marlon Brando Collection, while not filled with all gems does manage to show us many different sides of the man that was Marlon Brando.
Mutiny On the Bounty
Alternate Prologue and Epilogue Sequences
Apparently these are segments that were supposed to be in the movie, they were taken out in 1962 and then put back in for the 1967 television premiere. One thing that struck me was how nicely preserved both of these were. They looked really good and their colors were super sharp. In fact, that's how this whole movie looked and it's probably why it stood out the most to me.
4 Vintage Featurettes
After the Cameras Stopped Rolling
In this section they look back at the making of this movie. In fact, of all the featurettes I have ever seen, this one was really nicely composed and it came from a strong historical perspective. We get a lot of older footage, talking heads, and a ton of logistics on what went into building the HMS Bounty. If you are a fan of this film, the historical aspects it looks at, or any of the behind the the scenes goings on, this segment is certainly for you.
The Rise of Two Legends
Simply by the title I knew that one of the legends they had to be referring to was Marlon Brando. The other one was seemingly Caesar or it could have been William Shakespeare, depending on how you look at it. This is a highly enjoyable featurette because we get to hear from actors like Dennis Hopper and Laurence Fishburne talking about the work of both men. They dissect the subtext behind what Shakespeare wrote and at the same time they also look at Brando's performances and much copied acting style.
Introduction by TCM Host Robert Osborne
Reflections In A Golden Eye
Vintage Behind-the-Scenes Footage
Music is playing, black and white footage from the production is going, and I guess I have to give Warner Bros. some credit for at least trying to put an extra feature on this DVD. This was interesting to watch, but I think if I was more in awe of Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando I would have ravenously gone through this. As it is, I think they are great but I'm not as up on them as some.
The Teahouse of the August Moon
Another Warner Bros. produced featurette that examines the logistics of this film's production, the scenic beauty of Japan, and the history of the Geisha. Basically, this plays like a puff piece for the film, or if you weren't familiar with the subject matter, you might even be enlightened. Truthfully, I think that I fall somewhere in the middle so while I did enjoy watching this, I don't know that it made my life any fuller because I saw it.
This is an interesting conversation between the film's director John G. Avildsen and the film's screenwriter/producer, Steve Shagan. They start off joking that they are doing the commentary for Gone with the Wind, then they talk about not being able to shoot the movie in certain places, camera moves that were achieved, and the actors involved. One of the more interesting anecdotes was how at this time, Marlon Brando was so strapped for cash they had to pay him everyday after he was done working.
Mutiny on the Bounty, The Formula, The Teahouse of the August Moon, and Reflections In A Golden Eye are all presented in various versions of the widescreen format. Julius Caesar is the only movie in this set that is standard version, presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. The looks of all of these films vary simply because they were shot as the medium evolved from black and white to color. However, as I mentioned above, the real standout in this set is Mutiny on the Bounty. I don't know what they did to this film in the compression process but it looks beautiful.
The audio is Dolby Digital for all these discs. The films are also Close Captioned. The sound didn't seem to vary that much from disc to disc. In fact, I don't recall having to really adjust the levels on my TV that much as I was swapping out each title. Brando had a style of acting where he would sometimes even mumble his lines it seemed. That I was able to hear everything that was said really shows just how crisp the audio on these DVDs were.
The front cover of The Marlon Brando Collection features a collage of the actor from most of the films in this collection. The image that gets the biggest amount of space is not surprisingly from Mutiny On the Bounty. The back portion of this slipcase lists out what some of the extras are on the films in this set, and they also provide very tiny images from the front cover of each film. On the very bottom of this case is where one might find technical specs. All of the discs are stored in digipack cases, with again, Mutiny On the Bounty getting a bigger amaray one. All in all this is a decently put together set from Warner Bros. even if the slipcase itself feels rather flimsy.
What happened to this actor? Brando started off as such a force of nature. He was terrific in films like A Streetcar Named Desire, Mutiny on the Bounty, and The Godfather, but so much of his career seems marred by the fact that he seemed not take his craft as seriously the longer his career went on. Watching him in a movie like The Formula or even in something as recent as The Score, one could tell that he was simply there because he was being paid to be there. In some instances, his ambivalence toward his career actually helped his projects. I can think of him playing Admiral Kurtz no differently than how it was realized in Apocalypse Now, even though I am sure that Coppola had to wonder if he was really getting the most bang for his buck at the time.
Whatever the case, The Marlon Brando Collection is best described as a hybrid look at one of this nations greatest actors. While I think he could have taken what he did a little more seriously, I think that he ultimately left a much more interesting legacy. Nothing reeks harder than blowhard actors and Brando certainly wasn't one of those.
Julius Caesar was released June 4, 1953.