From Kerouac to Brando

The late great Marlon Brando’s stuff is being auctioned off, and one of the items on the block turns out to be an old letter from Jack Kerouac about the possibility of Brando starring in a film version of “On The Road” (a film that, decades later, has still never been made).

This story appeals to me because I love both of these icons, even though I can’t see Brando playing either Sal Paradise or Dean Moriarty. The Brando image is too strong, too major-key, for the shy and sensitive Sal Paradise, and not nearly cheerful or gregarious enough for the dynamic Dean Moriarty. Still, I can understand why Kerouac would have wanted the most exciting actor of his generation to champion the film of his book, and I think it’s just a little sad that, as this article tells us, Brando never wrote back to Kerouac and apparently snubbed him on other occasions as well. What’s with the attitude, Marlon?

Marlon Brando, circa 1962, playing Kerouac’s Ray Smith in a film version of “Big Sur” — now that’s a Kerouac/Brando collab I would have liked to see.

4 Responses

  1. I sometimes wonder …… if
    I sometimes wonder …

    … if it’s not better that it hasn’t happened with On the Road. If it was done right like Henry & June say, then it’d be awesome, Levi.

  2. That was a great movie,
    That was a great movie, wasn’t it? I don’t know the name of that bald actor who played Henry Miller, but he sure nailed the role. Great all around. Well, I don’t think the Kerouac movie could have flown under the commercial radar like that film did. I read a draft screenplay of the never-made Coppola version of On The Road (written by Michael Herr) and it was no Henry and June.

  3. You can’t blame Jack for
    You can’t blame Jack for trying

    By coincidence, I had approached Brando about playing me in a movie, should anyone ever make a movie about me. I zealously began putting on weight so the portrayal would be feasible. Alas, all that ever came out of this was that Marlon copied my use of white pancake makeup and mosquito netting for his role in Island of Dr. Moreau. You know I can’t stand the sun and the insects. But I have no hard feelings. Like I told the Judge, I would have gotten out of Brando’s swimming pool sooner had I known how much he valued his privacy. All he had to do is ask.

  4. AngstI like your idea of

    I like your idea of Brando as Ray in BIG SUR. He could have personified Ray’s anxiety and angst as he battled the D.T.’s perfectly.

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Litkicks will turn 30 years old in the summer of 2024! We can’t believe it ourselves. We don’t run as many blog posts about books and writers as we used to, but founder Marc Eliot Stein aka Levi Asher is busy running two podcasts. Please check out our latest work!