Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brando's pants: how they changed the world

Maybe you remember, but probably you don't, the book I'm not reading on Marlon Brando, the thousand-plus-page leg-numb-er by Peter Manso, the one I read a million years ago and refuse to ever read again.
But somehow chunks of text are levitating off the page and insinuating themselves into my brain.

How could you not be interested in a man who, according to Manso, revolutionized not only American theatre and cinematic expression, but the way men wore their pants? Like Gable shedding his undershirt, Brando wearing crotch-huggers inspired a whole generation to follow suit. And they never looked back.

The wardrobe mistress for  Brando's breakout stage role as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire knew she faced special challenges in dressing Stanley. Finally she decided to base his clothing on a crew of ditch-diggers she had seen in New York, their clothes so dirty "that they had stuck to their bodies. It was sweat, of course, but they looked like statues. I thought, That's the look I want. . . the look of animalness."

After shrinking his tshirts and dyeing them pink to make them look like flesh under the lights, ripping the shoulder to make it look as if some woman had attacked him, she came to the issue of his pants. This is where the magic happened. (I hope to Christ you can read this, cuz I'm not typing all THIS out no matter how interesting his pants are.)

In the late '40s, this was some big shit. Brando was still in his early 20s then, prime meat. 

It gets better.