The Men (1950)
After having declined more than one standard 7-year studio contract offer from Hollywood, the hottest young theatre actor on Broadway, 25-year old Marlon Brando, signed on with Fred Zinneman and Stanley Kramer (Judgement at Nuremberg) to make his screen debut with this anti-war drama entitled The Men. And Zinneman's unusual want for authenticity, represented among other things by him using 49 actual hospitalized war veterans, was hand in glove for the introduction of Brando's groundbreaking later dubbed method acting, an acting technique proponed and taught by Stella Adler, and already well honed by Brando himself on stage.
What's so great with Brando in these early films, in addition to his unequalled acting technique and prowess, is his hunger and ambition - a trait which unfortunately waned during the course of his career. Here, however, he is full of youthful energy and a determination to show the world what he could do. And what he could do... His performance here is an augury of things to come the following year when he and Elia Kazan adapted Tennessee Williams' long-running play A Streetcar Named Desire. And the performance here in The Men is almost as good; so full of power and depth that his classicist co-star Teresa Wright, despite giving a fine performance, looks very dated next to him. In addition to Brando, The Men boasts a semi-pioneering human approach from director Fred Zinneman; he's not at all political in his criticism or glamorizing in his characterisations, but simply offers modern, probing human drama which has enabled this film to stand the test of time remarkably well.