Monday, February 6, 2023

Marlon Brando makes his film debut with Teresa Wright in "The Men"

The Men (1950) is an American drama directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Marlon Brando—in his film debut—and Teresa Wright. The supporting cast includes Everett Sloane and Jack Webb. The film was produced by Stanley Kramer. The screenplay was written by Carl Foreman. The cinematography was by Robert De Grasse. The music was by Dimitri Tiomkin.

Ken Wilocek (Brando) is a returning World War II veteran who is a paraplegic due to an injury in the war. He struggles with his new circumstances and how they will impact his life back in the States. Ken doesn’t know where he fits in now that he finds himself in a wheelchair. His fiancée Ellen (Wright) struggles with her feelings toward Ken and his feelings of inadequacy.

Will Ken be able to navigate his world in a wheelchair? Will he be able to have a successful relationship with Ellen?


Fred Zinnemann (1907 -1997) was an Austrian Empire-born American film director. He won four Academy Awards for directing and producing films. He was an early advocate for filming on location for authenticity. Zinnemann introduced many stars to film, including Brando, Julie Harris, Montgomery Clift, Shirley Jones, and Meryl Streep. He also directed 19 actors to Oscar nominations, including Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, Jason Robards, Gary Cooper, and Maximilian Schell. Some of his films were From Her to Eternity (1953), Oklahoma! (1955), and The Nun’s Story (1959).

Marlon Brando (1924 – 2004) was an American actor. He is considered one of the most influential actors of his generation. Brando’s success on the stage, most notably in A Streetcar Named Desire, led to a career in film. He received his first Academy Award nomination for recreating the role of Stanley Kowalski in the 1951 film version of Streetcar. Other films include Viva Zapata! (1962), Julius Caesar (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), Guys and Dolls (1955), and The Godfather (1972). Brando won two Best Actor Academy Awards for his performances in On the Waterfront and The Godfather.

Teresa Wright (1918 - 2005) was an American stage, film, and television actress. She received Academy Award nominations in her first three films, a record that still holds today. In 1942, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver and for Best Actress in The Pride of the Yankees. She won the Supporting Oscar for Mrs. Miniver, and her co-star, Greer Garson won Best Actress. Today Wright is most famous for playing Lou Gehrig’s wife in The Pride of the YankeesThe Best Years of Our Lives, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright was a popular star throughout the 1940s starring opposite Robert Mitchum, Ray Milland, Gary Cooper, and David Niven. She starred opposite Marlon Brando in his first film role in The Men (1950). Wright continued working in film, with her last role as Miss Birdie in The Rainmaker (1997). Wright was the only non-baseball player to be honored by the New York Yankees when she passed away at age 86. 

Teresa Wright and Marlon Brando

The Men trivia

  • Brando remained in a wheelchair on and off the set during the film's production.
  • For his first film role, Brando earned $50,000 (approximately $400,000 today).
  • The film included 49 men from the Birmingham Veterans Administration Hospital.
  • Star Trek star Deforest Kelley has a small role as a doctor.
  • Arthur Jurado who played Angel was a paraplegic and not an actor.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

Discussion questions

  1. The Men is a film of its time and was groundbreaking in its day. Do you think it holds up in the 21st century?
  2. Many of the cast members weren't trained actors, including many of the veterans and some of the nurses. Was it obvious to you or did you even notice?
  3. Considering that this was Brando's first film, do you think it was an impressive debut?
  4. What did you think of Teresa Wright's performance? Were she and Brando a convincing couple?
  5. Was there anything about this film that surprised you?

To join the discussion on February 13, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a link to the meeting on Zoom.


  1. I've heard of this one for years, but I've never seen it -- I didn't realize it was Brando's first film! Interesting that he stayed in the wheelchair even off the set. I'm not surprised!

  2. Brando was a true Method Actor. He lived the character during the whole production.


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