The Freshman

Marlon Brando's sublime comedy performance elevates The Freshman from screwball comedy to a quirky niche in film history - among films that comment on cult movies.

Marlon Brando Matthew Broderick Bruno Kirby Penelope Ann Miller Paul Benedict Maximilian Schell

Marlon Brando’s sublime comedy performance elevates The Freshman from screwball comedy to a quirky niche in film history – among films that comment on cult movies.

Mario Puzo and Francis Coppola’s The Godfather is director Andrew Bergman’s starting point. Incoming NYU film student Matthew Broderick is exposed not only to that Paramount film (and its sequel) in pretentious prof Paul Benedict’s classroom but meets up with a virtual doppelganger for Don Vito Corleone in the form of mobster Carmine Sabatini (Brando).

The ornate and intentionally screwy plotline has Brando making an irresistible offer to Broderick to work for him part-time as a delivery boy. Broderick’s first assignment is transporting a huge (but real) lizard from the airport. Broderick quickly tumbles to the criminality of Brando and his nutty partner Maximilian Schell, but is unable to extricate himself.

Pic’s weakest element is the recurring satire of film studies. Although Benedict is droll as an academic poseur, the mocking of film analysis is puerile and obvious.

Broderick is ably abetted by two previous costars: Penelope Anne Miller (Biloxi Blues), winning as an offbeat form of mafia princess; and B.D. Wong (who popped up in Family Business) as Schell’s goofy partner in culinary crime. Tech credits on the mixed New York and Toronto shoot are good, capturing the right amount of Greenwich Village ambience.

The Freshman

Production: Tri-Star. Director Andrew Bergman; Producer Mike Lobell; Screenplay Andrew Bergman; Camera William A. Fraker; Editor Barry Malkin; Music David Newman; Art Director Ken Adam

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Marlon Brando Matthew Broderick Bruno Kirby Penelope Ann Miller Paul Benedict Maximilian Schell

More Film

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire' Star, Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, best known for dramatizing Adolf Hitler’s final days in “Downfall,” has died. The Swiss actor was 77 years old. The cause was reportedly colon cancer. In addition to delivering one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of the Nazi leader, Ganz played an angel who gives up immortality to experience earthly pleasures in Wim [...]

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, Star of 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire,' Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor whose portrayal of Adolf Hitler in 2004’s “Downfall” made him an international star, has died. He was 77. Ganz died at home in Zurich on Friday, his management told various media outlets. Ganz was a familiar figure in German-language cinema, with a career spanning nearly 60 years. In addition to [...]

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

  • Peter Parker and Miles Morales in

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse' Colored Outside the Lines

    The well-worn superhero genre and one of its best-known icons are unlikely vehicles for creating a visually fresh animated feature. But Sony Pictures Animation’s work on the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shows throwing out the rule book and letting everyone play in the creative sandbox can pay off big. “I think we [...]

  • Denis Villeneuve

    Denis Villeneuve's 'Dune' Gets November 2020 Release Date

    Warner Bros. has scheduled Legendary’s science-fiction tentpole “Dune” for a Nov. 20, 2020, release in 3D and Imax. “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa is in negotiations to join the “Dune” reboot with Timothee Chalamet, Javier Bardem, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, and Zendaya. Production is expected to launch in the spring [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content