Hostage of His Own Genius

MARLON BRANDO, 1924-2004

There's no room for genius in the theater," Laurence Olivier once remarked. "It's too much trouble." He was right. For all the Sturm, Drang and general lunacy that so often attend the production of a play or film, the aim is to mobilize genial craft and polished technique to make something that's easy for producers to budget and schedule, something that clutches the audience's heart but does not send it spiraling into cardiac arrest.

For an important time in his life--and ours--Marlon Brando was touched by genius, by which we mean that he did things in his art that were...

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