Karl Malden


Karl Malden (born Mladen George Sekulovich; March 22, 1912 – July 1, 2009) was an American actor. He made his film debut in Garson Kanin’s They Knew What They Wanted (1940), with Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, and William Gargan. Other early roles include Henry Hathaway‘s Kiss of Death (1947), with Victor Mature, Brian Donlevy, Coleen Gray, and Richard Widmark; Henry King‘s The Gunfighter (1950), with Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, and Millard Mitchell; Otto Preminger‘s Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), with Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney; and Lewis Milestone’s Halls of Montezuma (1951), with Widmark, Richard Boone, Jack Webb, Martin Milner, Neville Brand, Jack Palance, Reginald Gardiner, and Robert Wagner.

Malden was primarily a character actor, who according to Robert Berkvist, “for more than 60 years brought an intelligent intensity and a homespun authenticity to roles in theater, film, and television”, especially in such classic films as Elia Kazan‘s A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), with Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, and Kim Hunter – for which he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; On the Waterfront (1954), with Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, and Eva Marie Saint; David Swift‘s Pollyanna (1960), with Hayley Mills, Richard Egan, Nancy Olson, Adolphe Menjou, Donald Crisp, Agnes Moorehead, and Kevin Corcoran; and One-Eyed Jacks (1961), with Brando (who also directed), Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, and Slim Pickens.

Malden also played in high-profile Hollywood films such as Baby Doll (1956), with Carroll Baker and Eli Wallach; Delmar Daves’ The Hanging Tree (1959), with Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, and George C. Scott; How the West Was Won (1962), with Baker, Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones,, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Wallach, John Wayne, and Richard Widmark; Mervyn LeRoy’s Gypsy (1962), with Rosalind Russell and Natalie Wood; and Franklin J. Schaffner‘s Patton (1970), with Scott.

Other notable films in the early 1960’s include John Frankenheimer’s All Fall Down (1962), with Eva Marie Saint, Warren Beatty, and Angela Lansbury; Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), with Burt Lancaster, Thelma Ritter, Neville Brand, Edmond O’Brien, Telly Savalas; Paul Henreid’s Dead Ringer (1964), with Bette Davis, Peter Lawford, Philip Carey, Jean Hagen, George Macready, Estelle Winwood, George Chandler, and Cyril Delevanti; John Ford‘s Cheyenne Autumn (1964), with Widmark, Baker, Sal Mineo, Dolores del Río, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Arthur Kennedy, Stewart, and Edward G. Robinson; and Norman Jewison’s The Cincinnati Kid (1965), with Steve McQueen, Robinson, Ann-Margret, and Tuesday Weld;.

Films in the mid to late 1960s include Nevada Smith (1966), with McQueen, Brian Keith, Arthur Kennedy and Suzanne Pleshette; Hotel (1967), with Rod Taylor, Catherine Spaak, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Rennie, Merle Oberon, and Melvyn Douglas; The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967), with Roddy McDowall, Pleshette, and Hermione Baddeley; Ken Russell’s Billion Dollar Brain (1967), with Michael Caine, Ed Begley Sr., Oscar Homolka, and Françoise Dorléac; Blue (1968), with Terence Stamp, Joanna Pettet, Montalbán, and Stathis Giallelis; and Hot Millions (1968), with Peter Ustinov, Maggie Smith, Bob Newhart, Robert Morley, and Cesar Romero.

Later films include Dario Argento’s Cat o’ Nine Tales (1971), with James Franciscus and Catherine Spaak; Blake Edwards’ Wild Rovers (1971), with William Holden, Ryan O’Neal, Joe Don Baker, and Tom Skerritt; Summertime Killer (1972), with Christopher Mitchum and Olivia Hussey; Irwin Allen’s Beyond Poseidon Adventure (1979), with Caine, Sally Field, Telly Savalas, Peter Boyle, Jack Warden, Shirley Knight, Pickens, Angela Cartwright, Mark Harmon, and Shirley Jones; Ronald Neame‘s Meteor (1979), with Sean Connery, Wood, Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Richard Dysart, and Fonda; The Sting II (1983), with Jackie Gleason, Mac Davis, Teri Garr, Oliver Reed, Ron Rifkin, John Hancock; and Martin Ritt‘s Nuts (1987), with Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Maureen Stapleton, Wallach, Robert Webber, James Whitmore, and Leslie Nielsen.

From 1972 to 1977, he portrayed Lt. Mike Stone in the primetime television crime drama The Streets of San Francisco, Michael Douglas. He was later the spokesman for American Express. Film and culture critic Charles Champlin described Malden as “an Everyman, but one whose range moved easily up and down the levels of society and the IQ scale, from heroes to heavies and ordinary, decent guys just trying to get along”, and at the time of his death, Malden was described as “one of the great character actors of his time” who created a number of “powerhouse performances on screen”. Malden was also President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1989 to 1992.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • They Knew What They Wanted (1940) – directed by Garson Kanin
  • Winged Victory (1944) – directed by George Cukor
  • 13 Rue Madeleine (1947) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Boomerang! (1947) – directed by Elia Kazan
  • Kiss of Death (1947) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • The Gunfighter (1950) – directed by Henry King
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • Halls of Montezuma (1951) – directed by Lewis Milestone
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – directed by Elia Kazan
  • The Sellout (1952) – directed by Gerald Mayer
  • Diplomatic Courier (1952) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Operation Secret (1952) – directed by Lewis Seiler
  • Ruby Gentry (1952) – directed by King Vidor
  • I Confess (1953) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Take the High Ground! (1953) – directed by Richard Brooks
  • Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954) – directed by Roy Del Ruth
  • On the Waterfront (1954) – directed by Elia Kazan
  • Baby Doll (1956) – directed by Elia Kazan
  • Fear Strikes Out (1957) – directed by Robert Mulligan
  • Time Limit (1957) – uncredited – also director
  • Bombers B-52 (1957) – directed by Gordon Douglas
  • The Hanging Tree (1959) – directed by Delmer Daves – also uncredited co-director
  • Pollyanna (1960) – directed by David Swift
  • The Great Imposter (1961) – directed by Robert Mulligan
  • One-Eyed Jacks (1961) – directed by Marlon Brando
  • Parrish (1961) – directed by Delmer Daves
  • All Fall Down (1962) – directed by John Frankenheimer
  • Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) – directed by John Frankenheimer
  • Gypsy (1962) – directed by Mervyn LeRoy
  • How the West Was Won (1962) – directed by Henry Hathaway, John Ford, & George Marshall
  • Come Fly with Me (1963) – directed by Henry Levin
  • Dead Ringer (1964) – directed by Paul Henreid
  • Cheyenne Autumn (1964) – directed by John Ford
  • The Cincinnati Kid (1965) – directed by Norman Jewison
  • Nevada Smith (1966) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Murderers’ Row (1966) – directed by Henry Levin
  • Hotel (1967) – directed by Richard Quine
  • The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967) – directed by James Neilson
  • Billion Dollar Brain (1967) – directed by Ken Russell
  • Blue (1968) – directed by Silvio Narizzano
  • Hot Millions (1968) – directed by Eric Till
  • Patton (1970) – directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
  • Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971) – directed by Dario Argento
  • Wild Rovers (1971) – directed by Blake Edwards
  • The Summertime Killer (1972) – directed by Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi
  • Captain Courageous (1977) – directed by Harvey Hart – TV movie
  • Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • Meteor (1979) – directed by Ronald Neame
  • Word of Honor (1981) – directed by Mel Damski – TV movie
  • Miracle on Ice (1981) – directed by Steven Hilliard Stern – TV movie
  • Twilight Time (1982) – directed by Goran Paskaljević
  • The Sting II (1983) – directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan
  • With Intent to Kill (1984) – directed by Mike Robe – TV movie
  • Fatal Vision (1984) – directed by David Greene – miniseries
  • Alice in Wonderland (1985) – directed by Harry Harris – TV movie
  • Billy Galvin (1987) – directed by John Gray
  • Nuts (1987) – directed by Martin Ritt
  • My Father My Son (1988) – directed by Jeff Bleckner – TV movie
  • The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro (1989) – directed by Robert L. Collins – TV movie
  • Call Me Anna (1990) – directed by Gilbert Cates – TV movie
  • Absolute Strangers (1991) – directed by Gilbert Cates
  • Back to the Streets of San Francisco (1992) – directed by Mel Damski – TV movie
  • They’ve Taken Our Children: The Chowchilla Kidnapping (1993) – directed by Vern Gillum – TV movie