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Publisher's Summary

Based on new and revelatory material from Brando’s own private archives, an award-winning film biographer presents a deeply-textured, ambitious, and definitive portrait of the greatest movie actor of the 20th century, the elusive Marlon Brando, bringing his extraordinarily complex life into view as never before.

The most influential movie actor of his era, Marlon Brando changed the way other actors perceived their craft. His approach was natural, honest, and deeply personal, resulting in performances - most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront - that are without parallel. Brando was heralded as the American Hamlet - the Yank who surpassed British stage royalty Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson as the standard of greatness in the mid-20th century.

Brando’s impact on American culture matches his professional significance; he both challenged and codified our ideas of masculinity and sexuality. Brando was also one of the first stars to use his fame as a platform to address social, political, and moral issues, courageously calling out America’s deeply rooted racism.

William Mann’s brilliant biography of the Hollywood legend illuminates this culture icon for a new age. Mann astutely argues that Brando was not only a great actor but also a cultural soothsayer, a Cassandra warning us about the challenges to come. Brando’s admonitions against the monetization of nearly every aspect of the culture were prescient. His public protests against racial segregation and discrimination at the height of the Civil Rights movement - getting himself arrested at least once - were criticized as being needlessly provocative. Yet those actions of 50 years ago have become a model many actors follow today.

Psychologically astute and masterfully researched, based on new and revelatory material, The Contender explores the star and the man in full, including the childhood traumas that reverberated through his professional and personal life. It is a dazzling biography of our nation’s greatest actor that is sure to become an instant classic.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 William J. Mann (P)2019 HarperAudio

What listeners say about The Contender

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Psychobabble run amok

According to records, I have nearly 800 titles in my Audiobook library. Of those, I've listened all the way through to all but, maybe, 10 to 15. I even made it through the Great Courses on the Vikings. So, I don't give up easily. But I had to quit on this one. The author begins by claiming that he is going to stick to the facts. Then, he launches into the most nauseating psychobabble in which he reads the mind of what Marlon Brando must have been thinking at various times, how sleeping when he was three years old with a baby-sitter was a substitute for his mother, how his concern for a drunken woman when he was a child was really a concern for his mother, and on and on. I'm a psychologist, so maybe I have less tolerance for this kind of nonsense than most, but this was one of the worst books I've ever tried to make it through.

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Wow

I have read many Brando bios over the years, and this blows them all away, even Peter Manso's. There is not only a lot of new material here, but the story is told from a unique perspective.
Highly, highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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Too much of author’s assumptions!

The author put too much of his own interpretation of Marlon into this book. Also, we didn’t need to be told repeatedly that Marlon’s bad behavior was because of his mother and father or that he hated acting and being a celebrity. The book was much too long.

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A creatively crafted biography.

The author added his own interpretation of Brando's thoughts and opinions of celebraties in today's Government which is entirely his own and very presumptuous. He really doesn't know how Brando would feel about that today.

2 people found this helpful

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MOVING, ABSORBING NARRATIVE TOLD WITH EMPATHY AND RESPECT

Whether you are over the age of 50, as I am, or a much younger person interested in learning about a flawed but deeply principled man who deservedly became legend, this biography will help you understand what makes Mr. Brando uniquely great. I found it virtually unpausable, and I have over 740 titles in my Audible library. Some may be rendered skeptical by the obvious affection the author has for his subject and the psychological ovservations that run through the narrative. I find that both of these aspects add to, rather than detract from, the authenticity that emanates from this biography. It is, simply, a fascinating book, moving, educational, and right-now relevant,, especially with regard to Mr. Brando’s concerns about civil rights, the media and the Hollywood machine. It satisfies also as a tour of Mr. Brando’s films and an enlightened, though not unique, understanding and explanation of why his acting is extraordinary. Reading this book gave me even more respect for both the man and the film star, and made me want to rewatch On the Waterfront, Julius Caesar and The Godfather yet again. Very highly recommended.

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Borefest

Had to return for credit. After the first hr I gave up. Wanted to get more info but the story was poor marlon this poor marlon that. Author seemed to to treat him like some kind of god. I just wanted to find out why everyone made such a big deal about him. Still don’t get it

2 people found this helpful

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The Contender👍👍👍

Beautiful written and a pleasure to enjoy on audio, and I'm looking to my next audio book👍

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New view of Brando

Love the unique take on this complex individual. Like no other. A must read for anyone.

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A Well Built Telling

William Mann gives a seemingly full rendering of the man who was more a philosopher and sharp eyed observer on the nature of human beings than an "actor." His telling is appreciative of Marlon as a man who refused to be caricatured. Will Damron's narration has the perfect tone and (almost melancholic) mood for the telling of this life. I enjoyed it beginning to end and listened to it on the heels of watching the extraordinary documentary Listen To Me Marlon. This is a great companion to that.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-24-20

attempt at non-linear biography with wild speculat

some interesting information, attempting a non-linear look at Brando's life to suggest causality from childhood affecting his later life (very Freudian, including sexual feelings towards the mother etc.) but often veers into the realms of pure speculation, damaging any credibility created. not abook for first time Brando biography readers. Brando's smile and his memoir, Songs from my Mother are much better starting places (avoid Brando unzipped unless you want an endless string of people he may or may not have slept with). the narrator constantly sounds on the verge of tears, making it all rather surreal!

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  • ruben
  • 06-25-20

loved it!

i feel i almost know marlon brando now.. amazing person and well ahead of his time, looking at todays society.

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  • Bookworm
  • 06-07-20

ABSORBING BIOGRAPHY

Why is Marlon Brando widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time? This book helped me better understand the reasons.
Although his filmography included more than his fair share of flops, this book explains how his so-called ‘genius’ (and he’d be uncomfortable with that word) shone through in films like A Streetcar Named Desire; On The Waterfront; The Godfather; and Last Tango In Paris. Great dissection of these films, and others.
The book tells the story of a man who hated the superficiality of Tinseltown; who felt acting was an irrelevant indignity; and who was far more interested in campaigning for racial equality, opposing capital punishment and speaking up for the American Indians.
This biography is masterfully structured – not simply a chronological read, reflecting perhaps the complex nature of the subject matter himself.
I was looking forward to a little more on Apocalypse Now beyond a brief consideration (it’s one of my all-time favourites). But that’s a small fry comment about what otherwise is a deeply riveting portrait of a remarkable actor.

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  • Himple Snournip
  • 04-18-20

A Remarkable Life

A Superb Biography Of The Greatest Actor Of All Time. There Will Never Be Another Like Marl Brando.

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  • John o'neill
  • 02-05-20

very informative

a comprehensive look at the great man's life , passions,& his body of work.
never a dull individual was brando.