When Marlon Brando stunned Broadway in 1948, mumbling and scratching as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, he revolutionized American acting in style and sensibility with his raw psychological approach, his improvisational wildness. Patricia Bosworth focuses on Brando's great gifts, describing the gallery of indelible cinematic portraits he created, such as the paraplegic in The Men; the swaggering rebel Johnny in The Wild One; Terry Malloy, the illiterate dockworker who develops a conscience, in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (for which Brando won his first Academy Award); Vito Corleone in The Godfather (his second Academy Award); and the despairing expatriate Paul in Last Tango in Paris.
Brando has been called "the greatest actor in the world." Bosworth acknowledges his debt to master teacher Stella Adler and director Elia Kazan, who helped shape Brando as an actor, and she explores his soaring talent, a gift so huge he often didn't know how to control it. But she goes beyond his myth and celebrity to tell the story of his life and to explain Brando's personal torment, portraying the farm boy from Illinois who loved his alcoholic mother more than anyone else and who wanted to use his fame to change the world - and the man who even today remains a mystery.