Marlon Brando insisted on getting drunk to film a scene in which he was supposed to act drunk, but he got too drunk to act or direct and so he insisted on repeating the process another day. Again he got too drunk to direct or act.
Marlon Brando's first cut of the film was allegedly five hours long. He was reportedly unhappy with the final cut of 141 minutes, despite its box-office success. "Now, it's a good picture for them [Paramount]," he said upon its release, "but it's not the picture I made . . . now the characters in the film are black-and-white, not gray-and-human as I planned them."
Marlon Brando's inexperience behind the camera was obvious on set. He shot six times the amount of footage normally used for a film at the time. He was indecisive and ran over schedule and over budget in getting the film finished. Paramount eventually took the film away from him and re-cut it.
Marlon Brando would sit near the ocean for hours, waiting for the waves to become more dramatic for his perfect shots.
Filming began on 2 December 1958, but the movie was not completed until the autumn of 1960.
On a budget of $6 million, this was a huge disappointment at the box office. To help offset the costs, Marlon Brando persuaded Universal to pick up the tab. In return, he agreed to make five films for the studio: The Ugly American (1963), Bedtime Story (1964), The Appaloosa (1966), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) and The Night of the Following Day (1969), none of which performed well at the box office.
Stanley Kubrick, who originally was slated to direct the film, wanted Spencer Tracy to play Sheriff Dad Longworth. Marlon Brando, whose production company already had Karl Malden on salary, refused to replace him with Tracy.
During a birthday party for Marlon Brando, the crew gave him a belt with a card reading, "Hope it fits." A sign was placed below the birthday cake saying, "Don't feed the director." He reportedly ate at least four pieces of cake that day.
According to Karl Malden, during shooting, Marlon Brando would have "two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode and a quart of milk" for dinner, necessitating constant altering of his costumes.
Marlon Brando printed close to 250,000 feet of film (the average is 150,000). All this while utilizing the Vista-Vision process, which cost fifty cents a foot! In the end, the film, originally budgeted at $1.8 million, wound up with a price tag of $6 million.
The movie had very little resemblance to the source novel, and what remains has much more resonance with history than fiction. At various times, the two credited screenwriters and the uncredited Peckinpah have claimed (or had claimed for them) a majority of the responsibility for the film. When Karl Malden was asked who really wrote the story, he said: "There is one answer to your question - Marlon Brando, a genius in our time."
Despite playing Pina Pellicer's mother, Katy Jurado was only ten years older than she was.
Brando's original edit of the film ran 4 hours and 42 minutes. He then, as he put it, "got pretty sick of it and turned the job over to someone else." After he walked away from the editing, the studio cut the picture down to a manageable 141 minutes and added a new ending, which was filmed almost a year after principal photography was completed.
The actors were encouraged to improvise; one Paramount executive dubbed the film "Stanislavsky in the saddle."
Was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2018, by the Library of Congress for being, "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
Marlon Brando's silver-trimmed saddle from this film was re-used by bandit chief Eli Wallach in The Magnificent Seven (1960)--shot after this film, but released before it..
The character of Rio originally was based on Billy the Kid, as recounted in Charles Neider's novel "The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones." Sam Peckinpah, who wrote an early version of the script and who later went on to direct Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), said in a 1973 "Playboy" magazine interview that Marlon Brando would not play a villain, and Billy the Kid most definitely was a villain. Peckinpah's 1973 film shares some narrative elements with this film and it also featured "Jacks" co-stars Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado.
After buying the rights to the novel, producer Frank P. Rosenberg worked on the first draft of the script together with Rod Serling. Sam Peckinpah was then hired to rewrite it. A complex deal was then made where money earlier spent, attempting to develop Louis L'Amour's novel "To Tame a Land" into a film, was allocated for accounting purposes to this film, and Stanley Kubrick was hired as director. Kubrick fired Peckinpah and brought in Calder Willingham for more rewriting, but later Rosenberg fired him and hired Guy Trosper instead.
When Stanley Kubrick was helming, he had planned for Henry Fonda to play Dad. Fonda and Marlon Brando were both born in Omaha, Nebraska.
According to the film's producer, Frank P. Rosenberg, Marlon Brando "pondered each camera set up while 120 members of the company sprawled on the ground like battle-weary troops, or gazed at the seals playing in the swelling seas."
It was reported that Marlon Brando behaved in the most harsh way with this female co star Pina Pellicer, telling her she was a bad actress, to push her to cry and then obtain from her exactly what he wished to in the first place.
Included among the "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
The original ending had Louisa killed accidentally by Dad in the final shootout. There is a still of this in the book Rebel: The Rebel In Films by Joe Morella.
In the scene in the saloon after the shooting, Marlon Brando sits on top of the bar talking to Karl Malden, in front of a painting of the "Mona Lisa". Then, for a brief moment, Brando cleverly looks to the side and half smiles, with the exact same expression as the "Mona Lisa" directly behind him. Brando was a very inventive, resourceful actor.
Miriam Colon would appear again with Marlon Brando in another brooding Western, The Appaloosa.
There's much talk about Marlon Brando's 5 hour original cut, but in reality, no Western that plays in theaters, then or now, would be 5 hours long, which is the length of a television miniseries through the course of an entire week. In fact, most director's cuts are very long so then there's a proverbial block to chisel it down to a normal movie length. That said, this movie, running almost 2 1/2 hours, is quite long.