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Brando's Smile: His Life, Thought, and Work Hardcover – June 23, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-0393082869 ISBN-10: 0393082865 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Professor Mizruchi cleverly plays off Brando’s beefcake image in her book’s charming cover photograph and title, but note carefully the subtitle. This is no romantic tell-all but a rich look “over his shoulder” as Brando read and wrote comments in his much-loved collection of some 4,000 books. Mizruchi chased down 53 of 57 lots of Brando’s personal library, auctioned at Christie’s after his 2004 death, and she has gone through the books, newspaper and journal articles and reviews, scripts, and more, following Brando’s reading and annotating and using his acting career as the book’s frame (basically, from I Remember Mama on through The Score, with such powerhouses as On the Waterfront and The Godfather in between). It’s a brilliant strategy, a marvelous find, and an engaging, enlightening portrait of a human, a man seen in various portrayals as a sex machine, perhaps the greatest actor ever, and, toward the end, an overweight recluse. For Brando’s performance in Mutiny on the Bounty, for instance, he had more than 100 books on Polynesia alone. Mizruchi writes frankly, smartly, and wittily and quotes others as well to “explore the Brando that was not visible to the world in order to better understand the one that was.” --Eloise Kinney

Review

“Brimming with colorful anecdotes and details… a wonderfully cohesive work about Brando, both as an actor and a man.” — Publishers Weekly

“[Mizruchi is] the first to have access to Brando’s private archives, including his extensive library, film archives and research materials… Fascinating.” — Tom Shone (Atlantic)

“To understand the complete Brando…any future biographer will now have to take account of Mizruchi’s Brando as well—to somehow square the lover and the sensualist with the critical thinker.” — Julia M. Klein (Boston Globe)

“Renowned cultural scholar Susan L. Mizruchi explores the Brando that was not visible to the world in order to better understand the one that was—a Brando that was independent of the public persona and often at odds with it.” — Examiner

“The most amazing restoration work on an artist’s image that I’ve ever seen.” — Greg Carpenter (Sequart Magazine)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (June 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393082865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393082869
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very well researched and insightful book.
Betty Veronica
It delves into his childhood and early life and also each play and movie he was involved in.
CL
It is probably Brando's broadest, best, most multi-layered smile ever caught on film.
Richard Masloski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By K. Rai on June 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been a worshiper of MB from the time I was a 16 year old. Obsessed with him. Have read just about everything there is about him and seen his films, interviews over and over again. Susan has surprised me by educating me about my hero Marlon Brando and for that I thank her from the bottom of my heart. Great read, warm, crisp and memorable. Will now buy a hard cover of the same for my collection. more power to Susan and marlon
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Richard Masloski on July 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Marlon Brando had, yes, a sensational smile, one of the best in all the world - but having just finished reading Susan Mizruchi's BRANDO'S SMILE I am still trying to figure out why she titled her book thusly. Yes, the title matches the photo of a smiling Brando on the dust jacket - but the actual smile is not discussed all that much within the text. And when it is mentioned in the introduction, it is Ms. Mizruchi's contention that "When you think of Brando, you don't think of a smile." Perhaps she doesn't, but I do - in addition to Brando's exquisite use of every other facial expression known to man! She continues: "Granted, comedy was not his forte and most of the characters he played were unaccustomed to happiness." But comedy isn't really the point here. The smile is. In the book, the smile is discussed in all of one paragraph. Mention is made of a smile in STREETCAR, WATERFRONT, MUTINY, THE SCORE and TANGO. Yet the example of a smile in TANGO is a poor one. Not discussed is Brando as Paul's final smile, filled with all the fragile hope and romantic dream and desire for a new beginning in the world, just before his lover shoots him. Instead, a much earlier smirk is mentioned in listing Brando's "compromised" smiles in film. In life as in his roles, Brando used his stunning smile for varied purposes. I recall the smile Brando's Rio in ONE-EYED JACKS flashes his nemesis, Karl Malden's character of Dad, when Rio realizes he has a magnificent means of shafting Dad via use of the step-daughter Louisa. It is probably Brando's broadest, best, most multi-layered smile ever caught on film. Mention of it is not made in BRANDO'S SMILE. My point is that given the title of the book, a review of the actor's actual smile and its many uses might have been analyzed in much more depth.Read more ›
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Freyberg on August 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I attended the Christie's preview and sale of Marlon Brando's property in 2005 and was fortunate enough to purchase some books and a movie script. I can personally attest that every book, paperback, hardback and the script that I bought in addition to the many at the preview, had numerous notes, underlinings and other obvious indications that they had been carefully read and annotated by Brando. Like so many others, I use to believe that his incredible talent was mostly the result of instinct and imagination. It was a refreshing revelation for me to realize the amount of work and preparation he devoted throughout his life to his craft. For that I will always be indebted to Susan Mizruchi's wonderful book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CL on July 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I have read almost every biography written about Marlon Brando, I believe Brando's Smile to be the best. It delves into his childhood and early life and also each play and movie he was involved in. I have discovered many things about my favorite actor that I did not know. Many of the biographies about Brando seem more like tabloids, dishing the salacious aspects of Brando's life, whether or not these things are true, Susan L. Mizruchi has produced a biography that proves she is a skilled writer as well as an admirer of the great actor. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to know the man, and the actor, Marlon Brando.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Betty Veronica on October 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very well researched and insightful book. Author was given access to Brando's papers and library and carefully proves the case that Brando, far from being a disinterested or careless actor, was a scholarly, painstaking, artful, technically expert practitioner of both the art and craft of film, acting, storytelling, and social change. Mizruchi brings to the Marlon myth the serious and committed underpinnings of this mostly misapprehended (and underestimated) genius.
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By Dollar Bill Dan on May 2, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book....Brando the man
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John A. Murphy on October 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Excellent. Lots of new insights. Well written. Encyclopedic review of Brando's movies.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ernie McHone on July 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for the "Ultimate" book on Marlon Brando, this is it. Author Mizruchi was given access to thousands of Brando's papers, writings, scripts and libraries to paint the most comprehensive look to date. There was much more to Brando beyond acting. He was also a humanitarian that tried to bring awareness to various causes e.g. civil rights and Native Americans. This book shows how much of a knowledge seeker that this man was. He read constantly. If you only know Mr. Brando from his movie roles, prepare to be surprised and enlightened by this amazing book.
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