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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

September 22, 1996|Kenneth Turan

MARLON BRANDO: Portraits and Film Stills 1946-1995 edited by Lothar Schirmer with an essay by Truman Capote (Stewart, Tabori and Chang: $40, 184 pp.). Of picture books on movie stars there will never be an end, but this one is noteworthy and not only because its subject has been making films for an unbelievable 50 years. Unbelievable because it is hard to think of Marlon Brando as anything other than youthful and magnetic, the way he was when photographed with his sister Jocelyn during rehearsals for the stage version of "A Streetcar Named Desire." His intense, personal style permanently changed the way acting was done on-screen, and director Elia Kazan was nothing but accurate when he said of Brando in his own "On the Waterfront," "If there is a better performance by a man in the history of film in America, I don't know what it is." But, gradually, Brando gained weight and lost his belief in acting as an art and a craft, and the last shots in this book, from the failed "Don Juan DeMarco," are sad evidence of that decline. Among the more interesting photos selected are a magnetic Brando relaxing off-screen with Vivien Leigh and a surreal shot of the actor in costume as Napoleon chatting with a bemused Marilyn Monroe (above). Capote's famous New Yorker profile of Brando, "The Duke in His Domain," so upsetting to the subject that he swore off interviews for years, is also included.

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