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Somebody by [Kanfer, Stefan]
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Somebody Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This compulsively readable biography of the charismatic actor takes readers from Brando’s traumatic childhood through his glory days on Broadway and in Hollywood to his final years, which were marked by his struggle with weight and the travails of his children. Kanfer takes pains to reflect the events of the wider world at each stage of Brando’s life as well as the state of the movie business and Brando’s own ever-fluctuating interests, from conga drums to Tahiti to Native American rights. Where Kanfer excels is in his analysis of Brando’s contribution to the craft of acting; he is especially articulate about the revolutionary nature of Brando’s incendiary Broadway role in 1947 as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which created a sensation. Seven years later, Brando did it again in Hollywood, playing longshoreman Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. Kanfer maintains that although Brando’s talent far outstripped his ambition, it was a bad contract that trapped him in a long string of inferior roles, although he also asserts that Brando’s work in a number of those films has long been undervalued and that his Academy Award–winning work in The Godfather should have come as no surprise. The pandemonium of his personal life—his compulsive womanizing and overeating, deep ambivalence about acting, and general self-destructiveness—is attributed to his treatment at the hands of a belittling, authoritarian father. This excellent biography is more even-handed than Peter Manso’s salacious  Brando: The Biography (1994) and offers a much more full-bodied treatment than Patricia Bosworth’s slim Marlon Brando (2002); Broadway credits and filmography included. --Joanne Wilkinson


“Well-researched and beautifully written, the book is as fascinating . . . as the subject himself.” —Los Angeles Times

“Miraculous. . . . A landmark in Brando studies.” —David Thomson

“[A] vivid chronicle. . . . The Marlon Brando story is a fascinating and tragic one, and Kanfer gives it the size and understanding necessary to provide an enthralling read.” —Peter Bogdanovich

“Stefan Kanfer strikes an original note by portraying him, albeit with great sensitivity and tact, as a man permanently teetering on the brink of madness–clearly part of his mesmeric screen presence.” —The Sunday Times (London)

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1860 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Publication Date: November 4, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001JEGO88
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,384 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This does not set out to be an expansive cover-all-bases Brando bio. Rather, it provides a broad overview of Brando's life and works and is a perfect companion to his autobiography (which annoyingly skimmed over a lot of stuff).

It is unfair to claim a book is worthless because it reprints old material. Brando has been covered by writers across the gamut for decades, and some of those accounts are important for an understanding of what people were thinking about the man when he was at his peak-- or not.

The author has a refreshing, irreverent style and his writing made me laugh out loud more than once.

Personally, I disagree with his dismissal of two films in particular-- 'The Ugly American' and 'The Missouri Breaks'. In the latter film, the scene with the open coffin is priceless and should be included in any Brando 'showreel'.

But Marlon was a divisive character in many ways so it's appropriate that his works contiunue to challenge opinion.

My only real complaint would be that not enough ink is spent on later films, such as 'The Freshman', a great little movie which surprised many fans when it emerged. Yet such treatment seems to be the way with every bio of an actor who seemingly peaked in the mid-20th Century.

A fun-filled, informative read which can be safely recommended to anyone interested in the unique work of Marlon Brando.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Have you ever wondered if acting is truly something that is learned, or is it just that, an act? The book "Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando" answers alot of these questions. From his early childhood, till his death, this book does an excellent job of unpeeling the layers of Brando. Kanfer does quite a good job of delving into his psyche, exposing his strengths as well as his inability to connect on an emotional level. Brando had alot to speak about, this country, his causes, and at times his acting. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that wanted to know more about possibly the greatest, and most disturbed actor of our time.
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Format: Hardcover
Sometimes it's fun to read a book for just entertainment with a subject as eccentric as Brando. Kanfer's book is a fast page turning read which gives an excellent insight to the Brando legend, his craft, and his dysfunctional personality with focus on the poor value judgments which undermined his personal life. Kanfer goes into Brando's various professional relationships, failed marriages (and all those "loveless" affairs with more woman than even he could count). The under pinning's of Brando's personality were the negative impacts by his father (who though he was a nothing) and a strong mother (who was an alcoholic) along with stronger understanding and support by this sisters and his life long friendship with Wally Cox. Overall Kanfer implies Brando was on a long drawn out suicide to both his career and health. (He says the same of Montgomery Cliff who Brando saw as a competitor and died in his 40s.) In the end, so much talent wasted on need for money, a lack of pride in his work, and a life Kanfer says may have been lived on the boarder line of a mental illness. I enjoyed the book and writing and if you have any interest in Brando and his era I think you will too. (I gave it four stars because it's so darn entertaining.)
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Format: Hardcover
With "Somebody," Stefan Kanfer offers much more than a biography of America's greatest actor; it is also a tangential history of America working through one of its most artistically creative and socially challenging periods. Balancing relevant stories and astute observations that consistently avoid useless digression, this fine author gives context and clarity to the life of an extremely complex and gifted man. But as the unfolding of Brando's life reveals, time and again, talent is not necessarily synonymous with either success or peace of mind. Deeply wounded by unresolved issues involving an antagonistic father and alcoholic mother, Brando seems to have spent much of his life in a state of self-loathing. Frequent manifestations come in the forms of emotional abuse and a lack of professional cooperation, behaviors that alienated the women in his life, as well as producers, directors and co stars in his work. But perhaps it was Brando's love-hate relationship with his art that turned out to be his greatest obstacle of all. Again and again throughout his career he became frustrated in his attempts to find substance or satisfaction within his profession, causing him to look far beyond the boards of Broadway and movie sets. He escaped to remote islands, and into relationships that only seemed to complicate his life further. Brando also tried repeatedly to immerse himself in associations with socially progressive groups supporting, among others, African-Americans, Native Americans, and fighting against their victimization by (to paraphrase Vito Corleone) those "big shots" holding the strings. The inconsistent acceptance of Brando's films, both among the critics and the public, may leave the casual movie fan thinking that in the end his career was one of mediocrity.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Biographies of entertainers can too often veer into total salaciousness or go inside the mind of the star in a full-blown Freudian analysis. An even-handed, realistic biography of a well-known entertainer is hard to find. Somebody, by Stefan Kanter, is such a book. The story of Marlon Brando is told with detail but it does not read like a gossip column. The inner life of Brando is explored but is never disconnected from the outward life of work and relationships. One of the interesting aspects of the book is the story of Brando's early years under the tutelage of Stella Adler. Brando found an environment in which his talent could thrive and his early work reflected his formative acting years. Kanter points out that while many people believe Brando was a study in unfulfilled promise, with a front-weighted career, there were many notable performances, if not commercial successes, between On the Waterfront (1954) and the Godfather (1972). On the other hand, Kanter does not shy away from the fact that Brando was a deeply troubled man with a seemingly unending stream of uncommitted relationships with women, deep mental anguish arising from his upbringing, a strong sense of social justice without consistent follow-through, riches without sound financial management, compulsive with regard to food and sex. I recommend this book as an interesting read for the casual movie fan.
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