Hey, Stella! Marlon Brando And His Movie Memorabilia Cult

March 29, 2019

When it comes to movie legends, few can top the talented and controversial actor Marlon Brando (1924-2004). A natural-born Hollywood rebel, both on and off the screen, Marlon Brando appeared in a total of 39 full-length theatrical films during his illustrious career, beginning with “The Men” (1950) and ending with “The Score” (2001).
Here are 10 memorable Marlon Brando movies and the superb cinematic memorabilia they produced for today’s collectors. And make no mistake, the name “Brando” still conjures up movie magic today, with fans and collectors making the late actor a true popular culture icon.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951). Reprising his stage role from 1947, Marlon Brando shot to movie stardom playing Stanley Kowalski in this highly-acclaimed film adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. Expertly directed by Elia Kazan and co-starring Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, “Streetcar” earned Brando his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. The film produced one of the most memorable lines in movie history, with Brando repeatedly calling out to his wife from below Eunice’s (Peg Hillias) apartment, pleading for her return, “Hey, Stella!”
One can’t go wrong acquiring the theater lobby card set from “Streetcar,” which pictures eight scenes from the film. The colorful cards measure 11-by-14 inches each and were displayed in theater lobbies to promote the picture. One set in very fine condition brought $501.90 at auction.
“The Wild One” (1953). Marlon Brando further embellished his Hollywood rebel image playing outlaw biker Johnny Strabler, leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, in Stanley Kramer’s “The Wild One.” Brando and his wild brood later clash with a rival biker gang the Beetles, led by a menacing Lee Marvin as Chino, in a small California town. Brando cops one of the most memorable lines of his film career when local girl Mildred (Peggy Maley) asks him what he’s rebelling against. “Whaddaya got?” the surly Brando replies.
“The Wild One” generated some “wild” promotional material, most of which pictures the brooding Brando clad in biker leather. The movie’s half-sheet poster (22-by-28-inches) is a real winner, featuring the blurb “Marlon Brando…Is The Only Man Who Could Play…The Wild One.” One example in rolled, near mint-plus condition sold for $418.25 at auction.
“On the Waterfront” (1954). Marlon Brando won his first Best Actor Oscar, playing ex-boxer-turned-dockworker Terry Malloy in director Elia Kazan’s gripping drama of crime and corruption on New York City’s bustling waterfront. Once again, Brando cops a now-classic line in the film, telling brother Charlie (Rod Steiger), “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which I am.”
Movie memorabilia related to “On the Waterfront,” winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, is always in demand. One of the finest pieces out there is a foreign job, the spectacular “Fronte del Porto” Italian 4-Foglio movie poster (55-by-78 inches), which features stunning artwork by Anselmo Ballester. A restored example in fine-plus condition on linen bulled its way to a top bid of $3,346 at auction.
“Guys and Dolls” (1954). Marlon Brando stars as gambler Sky Masterson in this rousing musical based on the story by Damon Runyon. Add the talents of Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine, and “Guys and Dolls” delivers the goods, earning four Academy Award nominations.
Many collectors favor the rare “Guys and Dolls” 40-by-60-inch style Y movie poster, which features the four principal stars and the tagline, “It’s a Living Breathing Doll of a Musical!” One example in rolled very fine condition sold at auction for $1,314.50.
“Sayonara” (1957). Marlon Brando earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role as Major Lloyd “Ace” Gruver, a Korean War air ace whose own prejudices are put to the test when he falls for a young Japanese woman.
“Sayonara” memorabilia is still affordable. The film’s standard one-sheet poster (27-by-41 inches), featuring Brando and Miiko Taka, is a welcome addition to any collection. One example in folded fine/very fine condition brought a top bid of $113.53 at auction.
“Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962). Marlon Brando plays Fletcher Christian, a British naval officer who leads a mutiny against the tyrannical Captain William Bligh (Trevor Howard) aboard the HMS Bounty in the year 1787. Filmed partly on location in the South Pacific, “Mutiny on the Bounty” earned seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.
One of the movie’s standout pieces is the exquisite French four-panel poster (124-by-93 inches) titled “Les Revoltes Du Bounty,” featuring artwork by Roger Soubie. One example in restored fine/very fine condition on linen sailed to a winning bid of $501.90 at auction.
“The Godfather” (1972). Marlon Brando earned his second Best Actor Oscar playing crime family patriarch Don Vito Corleone in director Francis Ford Coppola’s sweeping epic “The Godfather.” Once again, Brando scored one of the more memorable movie lines in history, reassuring singer Johnny Fontaine (Al Martino), who covets a choice movie role from a recalcitrant Hollywood director, “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
The eight-card lobby set from “The Godfather” is a choice item among collectors. One card is rather grisly, featuring the massacre of hot-headed Sonny Corleone (James Caan) at a toll station by tommy gun-wielding mobsters. One set in pristine, CGC-graded mint condition sold at auction for $1,015.75. Wisely, the auction house didn’t refuse the bid.
“The Missouri Breaks” (1976). Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson team up in this epic western set in rugged north central Montana populated by the famous Missouri River “breaks,” deep cuts forged in the land by the rushing waters. Brando plays gun-for-hire regulator Robert E. Lee Clayton, and Nicholson appears as his nemesis, Tom Logan, the leader of a gang of horse rustlers.
Although a commercial flop, “The Missouri Breaks” still rates high with many collectors. The movie’s standard one-sheet advance poster (27-by-41 inches) with artwork by Bob Peak features Brando and Nicholson. One example in folded, near-mint condition brought $51 at auction.
“Superman” (1978). Marlon Brando earned a “super” salary, $3.7 million plus 11.75 percent of the gross profits, playing Superman’s Krypton father Jor-El in this blockbuster hit starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel.
Collectors love “Superman’s” deluxe lobby card set, which features eight scenes from the film, including Brando as Jor-El on three cards. One set in mint condition soared to a winning bid of $418.25 at auction.
“Apocalypse Now” (1979). Francis Ford Coppola’s stunning Vietnam War epic features Marlon Brando as Col. Walter E. Kurtz, a renegade U.S. Army Special Forces officer who is commanding his own army of Montagnard troops in Cambodia. Sent to terminate the insane colonel “with extreme prejudice” is Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen).
One of the movie’s finest promotional efforts is the Polish one-sheet poster (27-by-38 inches), which features a Waldemar Swierzy illustrated visage of Brando as the sinister Colonel Kurtz. One example in unfolded, fine condition brought a top bid of $896.25 at auction.
Auction results and images are courtesy of Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas.


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