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Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me Hardcover – September 3, 1994

4.6 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The publisher reportedly paid $5 million for this book but expects to recoup its investment; after all, this will be the only Brando autobiography available. Lindsey, who authored the prize-winning The Falcon and the Snowman, also helped Ronald Reagan when he faced writer's block over his autobiography. A 500,000-copy first printing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

When Marlon Brando, playing Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, bemoaned the fact that he "coulda been somebody," audiences hung onto his words, but according to Brando, the role "was actor-proof, a scene that demonstrated how audiences often do much of the acting themselves in an effectively told story. " Brando's evaluation of his acting and that of other celebrated actors, e.g., Olivier in Wuthering Heights, mark this rumination on his life. In his analysis of his films, from Streetcar to The Freshman, the master tries hard to demonstrate hubris and to provide public lessons. At the same time, he claims that luck, physical desires, and the need to make money motivate him. The book, which the publisher would not release in galleys, strikes the reader as a confession, an attempt to set the record straight, to circumvent "a carrion press that has an insatiable appetite for salaciousness and abhors being denied access to anyone, from pimps to presidents." Is it coincidence that Manso's unauthorized Brando and this book are being published a month apart? Whatever its raison d'{ˆ}etre, Songs My Mother Taught Me has much to offer. First, it's beautifully illustrated, beginning before the text with 24 pages of photographs covering Brando's early life, continuing with a number of well-placed photos documenting various film shoots, and concluding with 32 pages of photographs near the end. Brando's account of his early years rings true as he records the frailties of his alcoholic parents. His anecdotes about work and play are entertaining and memorable, and he addresses the many social causes he has championed. It's an interesting, albeit incomplete, work: according to coauthor Lindsey, Brando promised to "hide nothing . . . except his marriages and his children." (So many marriages, so many children.) Readers of Manso can't come here to find Brando's side of his marital troubles or the perplexing murder of his daughter's husband at the hands of his son. But they will find insight into the life of a man who was definitely a contender. Bonnie Smothers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 3, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679410139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679410133
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marlon Brando is regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time, but this lavishly praised gift of his was just one of many qualities he possessed. In fact, among the things you'll learn while reading his autobiography "Songs My Mother Taught Me," is that he was quite reluctant to talk about his career, frowning as he did at all the nonsense forced upon him as a celebrity. He much preferred to discuss topics which he considered genuinely "important." Readers most eager to hear what he has to say about his own performances and the profession of acting need not to be warned, though; thankfully, writer Robert Lindsey, who compiled this book together after recording conversations with Brando for years, insisted that the autobiography of an actor should, no matter what, provide insights on acting. Brando surrendered, albeit "with a reluctance that has never changed," as Lindsey points out in the foreword. Brando shares his opinions and afterthoughts on just about every one of his performances and movies, as well as his experiences with various directors such as Elia Kazan, Charlie Chaplin, Francis Ford Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci, and other actors such as Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Vivien Leigh and David Niven (he claims that his film with David Niven, BEDTIME STORY of 1964, was the single film he ever made where he truly looked forward to going to work).

Even so, the burning neglection of his own work in films, which remained throughout Brando's life, is not to be ignored, and has sometimes been interpreted as arrogance, or a deliberate attempt to be provocative. Why should it be so hard for an actor to talk about acting once in a while? With "Songs My Mother Taught Me," the question is solved, and more than that.
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides great insight into Marlon Brando, the man, and his view of the world and himself in it. Marked by poignant, eloquent, intelligent, and fascinating interludes on philosophy, history, and--perhaps most surprisingly--the craft of acting itself, readers will enjoy getting to know the Brando behind the tabloid images and salacious gossip mongers. Brando also almost succeeds in his thinly-veiled project of deconstructing his own myth. Perhaps betraying just how deeply his father's early and constant beratements of his abilities and potential affected him ("You'll never amount to anything"), Brando cannot seem to believe that he did anything out of the ordinary. He is beyond disparaging about his own acting and dismissive of his titanic achievements in cinema, art, and cultural redefinition. Generally considered the finest actor of all time, Brando--in two separate decades--twice revolutionized acting and redefined the medium. He was a liberal and a humanitarian eminently more interested in making a contribution to humankind in some other (in his words, "more important") endeavor than acting. He several times states that not all is black and white, it is a "polka dot" world, and he is understanding of the shortcomings of others. Yet he is a harsh judge of himself and seems to view his own life in either/or terms. He succeeded in important ways in helping mankind or he frittered away his talents on the meaningless if lucrative game of acting. Still, his achievement as well as the pervasiveness of his cultural influence (think blue jeans and t-shirts), despite his own discounting of it here, was remarkable. Sensitive, thoroughly enjoyable, very funny, and exceedingly humble, this memoir is not complete, but it gives us a window into the mind of one of the most remarkable and influential personalities of the last century.
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By A Customer on June 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Marlon Brando is a rare man, a deep and churning soul, and his lyrical journey into self is vulnerable and honest. He lays himself open on these pages, discussing himself and his world intelligently and ardently. He doesn't merely touch on his celebrity journey; he takes us further and shows us his causes and passions, all the dimensions that make his life purposeful and valuable beyond playing make believe on the silver screen.
Brando's avoidance here of his personal relationships with wives and children is admirable; he owes us no explanations and fully deserves to keep such intimacies as private as he chooses. I did not miss these details, so full was this chronicle, for he gives us something better: a thoughtful, sometimes raw look at the relationships which formed him. Parents, siblings, friends... these are the figures central to Brando the boy, who still seems to tremble not so far under the skin of Brando the man.
It is impossible to review such a complicated man and his amazing, personal story in less than 1,000 words. The best review for "Songs My Mother Taught Me" is, in fact, "Songs My Mother Taught Me." It's not another cheesy celebrity expose'; it's a detailed gaze into the sensitive and firey soul of a rebel poet. It bears multiple readings, for this isn't just a book about a movie star. It's a book about a thriving and vital human being.
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Format: Hardcover
Brando was also a terrific storyteller. This book puts to rest so many rumors and gives an honest self-appraisal of this large and largely misunderstood genius. His life was filled with deepest tragedy, but Brando managed to stay positive and he kept his killer sense of humor. The book is funny! Brando was an actor, but also a humanitarian and a true friend to those without a voice. I encourage fans to hear his story from his own voice, rather than one of the many gossip-filled bios available.
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