An eight-week, eight-film tribute to the late Marlon Brando opens tomorrow at The Charles with Viva Zapata!, a 1952 film in which he portrays the man who rose from peasant origins to become leader of a Mexican revolution and, eventually, president of the country.
The film, directed by Elia Kazan and written by John Steinbeck, is questionable history (the real Emiliano Zapata was not quite the noble figure Brando portrays). But the movie gave the 28-year-old Brando, in only his third film, quite the stage from which to display his range (he'd already left his mark on audiences with the previous year's A Streetcar Named Desire).
Zapata also marks one of the few times Brando let himself be upstaged; Anthony Quinn, as Zapata's impassioned brother, Eufemio, took home a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts.
Other movies in the series are 1960's The Fugitive Kind (Aug. 7 and 12), 1972's Last Tango In Paris (Aug. 14 and 19), 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire (Aug. 21 and 26), 1972's The Godfather (Aug. 28 and Sept. 2), 1954's On the Waterfront (Sept. 4 and 9), 1954's The Wild One (Sept. 11 and 16) and 1969's Burn! (Sept. 18 and 23).
Show times for the Brando films, part of The Charles' continuing revival series, are noon Saturdays and 9 p.m. Thursdays. Tickets are $5. Call 410-727-FILM.
Fans of Japanese adventure films who want to get a jump on the rest of Baltimore's moviegoing audience should check out this weekend's Otakon, a celebration of Japanese and Far Eastern popular culture. Two recent samurai flicks, both grand, exhilarating examples of the genre, are having their Baltimore premieres there this weekend.
The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi, the latest in a decades-old movie series chronicling the adventures of a blind swordsman who makes up for in skill what he lacks in verbosity, screens at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow, while Hero, starring Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi and Tony Leung, is set for 11 a.m. Sunday.
For information on Otakon, which runs today through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center, check out the Web site www.otakon.com. Admission to the convention is $55 for all three days, $40 for tomorrow only, $20 for Sunday only.
Catwoman in town
Halle Berry and her barely there costume may be getting all the ink lately, but long-time Catwoman fans know she's actually the fifth actress to portray the Clawed Crusader on- screen.
Former Miss America Lee Meriwether, the first to portray Catwoman on the silver screen (in 1966's Batman, a celluloid version of the hit TV series), will be appearing tonight at the R/C Hollywood Movies 4, 5509 Oregon Ave. in Arbutus, along with the famous (and ultra-'60s-cool) Batmobile.
Meriwether will be at the theater from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. to promote her appearance at Baltimore's Super Megafest, a convention geared to superhero and comic fans, running through Sunday at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel, 903 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson. For more information, visit www.baltimore.supermegafest.com.
Trivia fans, take note: The other Catwomen have included Julie Newmar (who also will be at Super Megafest, along with television's Batman himself, Adam West) and Eartha Kitt on the TV series, and Michelle Pfeiffer in the 1992 movie Batman Returns.
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