Cinema: A Tiger in the Reeds

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One day when he was 17, Marlon Brando took a bottle of hair tonic to school. When nobody was looking, he dribbled a thin stream of the stuff down a corridor, into an empty study room, and up the front wall. On the wall he scrawled, with the almost invisible liquid, a shocking word. Next period, when the room was full, he set a match to the hair tonic. Blue flame whooshed through the room, and the handwriting on the wall that day was nothing short of illuminating.

A little more than a...

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