Brando was one of the most respected actors of the post-war era. He is listed by the American Film Institute as the fourth greatest male star whose screen debut occurred before or during 1950 (it occurred in 1950).
He earned respect among critics for his memorable performances and charismatic screen presence. His greatest contribution was helping to popularize Method acting.He is regarded as one of the greatest cinema actors of the 20th century
Marlon Brando is a cultural icon whose popularity has endured for over six decades. His rise to national attention in the 1950’s had a profound effect on American culture. According to film critic Pauline Kael, “Brando represented a reaction against the post-war mania for security.
As a protagonist, the Brando of the early fifties had no code, only his instincts. He was a development from the gangster leader and the outlaw. He was antisocial because he knew society was crap; he was a hero to youth because he was strong enough not to take the crap … Brando represented a contemporary version of the free American . Brando is still the most exciting American actor on the screen.”
“Marlon Brando, sporting leather jacket, jeans, and moody glare, became a cultural icon summing up ‘the road’ in all its maverick glory.” His portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler in The Wild One has become an iconic image, used both as a symbol of rebelliousness and a fashion accessory that includes a Perfecto style motorcycle jacket, a tilted cap, jeans, and sunglasses. Johnny’s haircut inspired a craze for sideburns, followed by James Dean and Elvis Presley, among others. Dean copied Brando’s acting style extensively and Presley used Brando’s image as a model for his role in Jailhouse Rock. The “I coulda been a contender” scene from On the Waterfront, according to the author of Brooklyn Boomer, Martin H. Levinson, is “one of the most famous scenes in motion picture history and the line itself has become part of America’s cultural lexicon.” Brando’s powerful “Wild One” image was still, as of 2011, being marketed by the makers of his Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, in a range of clothing inspired by his character from the film and licensed by Brando’s estate.