Marlon Brando Screen Tests for Rebel Without A Cause (1947)

Dur­ing the 1940s, Warn­er Broth­ers bought the rights to Robert Lind­ner’s book, Rebel With­out a Cause: The Hyp­no­analy­sis of a Crim­i­nal Psy­chopath, and began turn­ing it into a film. A par­tial script was writ­ten, and a 23-year old Mar­lon Bran­do was asked to do a five-minute screen test in 1947. For what­ev­er rea­son, the stu­dio aban­doned the orig­i­nal project, and even­tu­al­ly revived it eight years lat­er with a new script and a new actor — James Dean, of course. Dean’s own screen test for Rebel With­out a Cause appears here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

The God­fa­ther With­out Bran­do?: It Almost Hap­pened

The James Dean Sto­ry by Robert Alt­man (Com­plete Film)

Paul New­man and James Dean Screen­test for East of Eden

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  • A few obser­va­tions. I think of a screen test as a sin­gle extend­ed take, but this one cuts sev­er­al times as if in an actu­al movie, though the cut­ting is dread­ful and was obvi­ous­ly done hasti­ly. The actress oppo­site Bran­do looks pret­ty sec­ond-tier … though that’s obvi­ous­ly because her path and Bran­do’s in film diverged pret­ty dra­mat­i­cal­ly. And I could scarce­ly believe the dirty sad­dle shoes I saw Bran­do wear­ing with his suit at the con­clu­sion. I asso­ciate them with teenagers, not with an expe­ri­enced, tal­ent­ed Broad­way actor vis­it­ing Hol­ly­wood for a screen test — even if he is only 23.

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