Marlon Brando began his acting career at the Shattuck Military Academy in the early 1940s. When he was expelled he left for New York. His big break came in 1947, when he won the role of vicious husband Stanley Kowalski in the original run of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. He went on to star in some of the most iconic movies of the 20th century, including On the Waterfront (1954), The Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979).
A March 1, 1976 letter from Marlon Brando to Francis Ford Coppola, sent care of Coppola’s legal team Schiff, Hirsch & Schreiber. In the text Brando agrees to take on the role of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, one of his most celebrated performances. To the bottom right is a very fine signature in blue pen. The significance of this letter to the making of the movie cannot be overstated.
It reads in full: “Gentlemen: Reference is hereby made to that certain agreement dated as of March 1, 1976, by and between you and Colony Productions Inc. (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Employment Agreement’) with respect to my services in the motion picture entitled ‘APOCALYPSE, NOW.’
“This will acknowledge that I have read the Employment Agreement and am familiar with all of the terms covenants and conditions thereof.
“In order to induce you to enter into the Employment Agreement, I hereby:”
“1. Guarantee to you the full and faithful performance of each and every term, covenant and condition therein undertaken by Colony Productions Inc.
“2. Undertake and agree to do and perform each and every term, covenant, condition and act which I may be called upon to perform pursuant thereto.
“3. Undertake and agree to look solely to Colony Productions Inc. for the payment of any compensation payable to me thereunder.
“Very truly yours, Marlon Brando”.
The letter is typed on A4-sized paper and is in very fine condition. A must-have for any fan of Apocalypse Now and the American New Wave.
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