Saturday, August 28, 2010
Anna Magnani is arguably the best actress of the film era. What a treat to see her in a film (clip, above) with Marlin Brando in his best period. The film: Tennessee Williams' "The Fugitive Kind."
Magnani's great here. Brando has to get out of town to escape the law, but Magnani thinks he's leaving to be with another woman. When he tries to push past her she grabs his precious guitar and won't let go. That's such a Magnani thing to do! She fights for her man. She won't take no for an answer. He slaps her and she just takes the slaps and holds on.
But Brando knows he's got a real woman. In another sequence (on YouTube, not shown here) a beautiful girl throws herself at him and he says disdainfully: "Look at your wrists, they're so thin. I could snap them like a twig with two fingers. That's not the way a real woman is." The real woman is Anna Magnani, who has wrists like Popeye.
My only criticism is that the script doesn't give Magnani enough to say. She needed more lines. Maybe the studio was afraid Magnani would outshine Brando. Or maybe Williams slipped up. Maybe Magnani couldn't learn enough English. I wish I knew.
From another film, here's (above) Magnani playing a wife whose husband is taken away by the fascists, maybe to be shot. Magnani's a real woman. When her man is threatened she battles her way through a gauntlet of armed soldiers to get him back. When you see this you say to yourself, "Now that's what love is. If you're not willing to do that for your significant other, then you're not really in love."
Here's (above) Magnani and a beau taking a walk in the woods. What's so special about a walk you ask, but when Magnani does a scene everything is special. Her feigned helplessness is beautiful to behold. Watch the first minute and a half, and don't be put off by the documentary footage that begins it.
Thinking about "The Fugitive Kind" reminded me of Brando's performance in that film. Here's (above) the standout first sequence of that film, beloved by caricaturists and impressionists everywhere. It's one of Brandos funniest.