Marlon Brando applying his make-up on the set of On the Waterfront (1954, dir. Elia Kazan)
“[In On the Waterfront] there was a scene in a taxicab, where I turn to my brother, who’s come to turn me over to the gangsters, and I lament to him that he never looked after me, he never gave me a chance, that I could have been a contender, I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum…It was very moving. And people often spoke about that, ‘Oh, my God, what a wonderful scene, Marlon, blah blah blah blah blah.’
It wasn’t wonderful at all. The situation was wonderful. Everybody feels like he could have been a contender, he could have been somebody, everybody feels as though he’s partly bum, some part of him. He is not fulfilled and he could have done better, he could have been better. Everybody feels a sense of loss about something. So that was what touched people. It wasn’t the scene itself. There are other scenes where you’ll find actors being expert, but since the audience can’t clearly identify with them, they just pass unnoticed. Wonderful scenes never get mentioned, only those scenes that affect people.”
-Brando, quoted in Lawrence Grobel’s Conversations with Brando (1993)

Marlon Brando applying his make-up on the set of On the Waterfront (1954, dir. Elia Kazan)

“[In On the Waterfront] there was a scene in a taxicab, where I turn to my brother, who’s come to turn me over to the gangsters, and I lament to him that he never looked after me, he never gave me a chance, that I could have been a contender, I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum…It was very moving. And people often spoke about that, ‘Oh, my God, what a wonderful scene, Marlon, blah blah blah blah blah.’

It wasn’t wonderful at all. The situation was wonderful. Everybody feels like he could have been a contender, he could have been somebody, everybody feels as though he’s partly bum, some part of him. He is not fulfilled and he could have done better, he could have been better. Everybody feels a sense of loss about something. So that was what touched people. It wasn’t the scene itself. There are other scenes where you’ll find actors being expert, but since the audience can’t clearly identify with them, they just pass unnoticed. Wonderful scenes never get mentioned, only those scenes that affect people.”

-Brando, quoted in Lawrence Grobel’s Conversations with Brando (1993)