SHOW BUSINESS: Brando and Brando X

An autobiography and a biography of Marlon Brando offer little to choose between. One is empty, the other scurrilous.

You know an autobiography is in trouble when its best chapter -- funny, intimate, emotionally engaged -- is about the pet raccoon the author loved and lost decades ago. You know a biography is in trouble when sentences like this start popping up: "From the comfort of his foreplay to his gentle whispers, he gave something that was almost at one with female consciousness." Could we see a footnote on that?

Contemplating his own life in Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me (Random House; 568 pages; $25), Marlon Brando, aided by journalist Robert Lindsey, strikes a pose of injured innocence: he...