... deeply engaging and perceptive from page one. Neither hagiography nor scandal sheet, it’s a clear reckoning of a complex man. The author explores the films, of course, but mostly Brando himself ... The curious twist, and possibly the most compelling aspect, is Mann’s decision to conclude with a quiet moment in 1974—leaving the final 25 years of Brando’s life for a brief epilog. The madness of Apocalypse Now, his sporadic retirement, and his increasingly public family issues are thus given the briefest of consideration. While the narrative is bookended by descriptions of son Christian Brando’s 1991 trial for manslaughter, Mann has crafted a fitting end to the story he wanted to tell, and this account may be the richer for it ... A thoroughly enjoyable, illuminating read, and a must for all libraries.
Marlon Brando reigned over Hollywood in an era before it was possible to know every little thing about an actor’s life — but this biography is going to change that. Mann went through Brando’s personal archives to craft a story that covers not only his behind-the-scenes persona but the way in which he led the charge for a merging of Hollywood and protest culture.
Mann masterfully captures Brando’s allure, his psychological complexity and the epic arc of his career ... Mann interweaves narrative strands from Brando’s traumatic childhood through his professional ascent to build a layered portrait of his ambivalences, rages and sexuality ... The portrait of 1940s New York and Brando’s time at the Dramatic Workshop is particularly fascinating ... Subsequent chapters in Brando’s life and work are as carefully and fairly handled ... From Mann, Brando receives a biography every bit as compelling and powerful as his own stage presence.