Marlon Brando: Stanley Kowalski vs. Terry Malloy


One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Stanley Kowalski

A quote from the AFI: “The art of screen acting has two chapters—Before Brando and After Brando. Though Stanislavski created method acting, it was Brando who showed the world its power.” And show it he did in 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire. His portrayal of brutish alpha male Stanley was a tour de force performance. Knowing that makes it all the more surprising when considering Karl Malden won Best Supporting Actor, Kim Hunter won Best Supporting Actress, and Vivien Leigh won Best Actress. Marlon Brando won absolutely no awards that year for what was perhaps his most famous role.

The case for Terry Malloy

Three years later Brando would win a Best Actor Oscar for playing Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. This is what Al Pacino had to say: “Brando’s a giant on every level. When he acts, it’s as if he’s landed on another planet. He’s got it all. That’s why he’s endured. When I first saw On the Waterfront I couldn’t move. I couldn’t leave the theatre. I’d never seen the like of it. I couldn’t believe it.” Maybe it’s just me, but despite Pacino’s (and countless others’) rave reviews for Marlon’s performance here, I always get the feeling that, as a character, Terry Malloy lives somewhat in the shadows of Stanley Kowalski. Do you agree?


Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!