'The Wild One' [Blu ray]
(Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith, Lee Marvin, Jay C. Flippen, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1953) 2015 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: "Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?...Whadda you got?" An angry young Marlon Brando scorches the screen as THE WILD ONE in this powerful '50s cult classic. Two rival motorcycle gangs terrorize a small town after one of their leaders is thrown in jail.
Blu ray Verdict: Marlon Brando puts in a great performance as Johnny, and delivers one of cinema history's greatest lines - "What you rebelling against Johnny?" - 'What you got?!". Amazing to realize that this was only Brando's fifth movie, yet he had been nominated for Oscars in three of his first four roles (in 'A Streetcar named Desire,' 'Viva Zapata' and 'Julius Ceasar').
Anyway, there's a lot to say about the confused stance of this film, reflecting a distinct dissonance in the American psyche: it begins with an imposed `warning,' and tries to straddle the line between celebrating passion and condemning weakness. But I'm more interested in Brando.
He had already revolutionized film forever in just one outing, and would go on to do some very clever things. Along the way, he considers himself a lose collection of parts contained in a single skin. Each part can approach the role differently and by engineering the differences he projects the supertheatric. Each of his parts operates independently and some take over parts of his body. Here, one of his star `component' performers is his butt. It is already showing plumpness, a matter which vexed Brando at the time.
But all in all, he manages something unknown at the time and rare since: a jazz performance among the various components of himself. Everything else (story, the actors, the situation) is simple traffic. Everything you see the characters do, Brando has his internal gang do, including the split of half the parts into a semi-competing gang. Including the homoerotic overtones.
Some cheezy back projection and obvious stunt doubles mar the production as much as the cold war preaching. Some believe that the icons in this film invented or accelerated some societal trends, and that may be true. But it is because the player alone gave it power. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:37.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.