Brando’s The Men – Hollywood’s First Look at Paraplegia


Hollywood sixty years ago, an actor relatively unknown called Marlon Brando helped Hollywood introducing to the public in general a segment relatively unknown society – paraplegic. The inauguration of the newly arrived in Hollywood, Brando and these new members of the society took place on the big screen in the 1950 film, the men.

men are used to launch the career of Brando’s film but, more important still, lovers of cinema introduced to men, the survivors first injury catastrophic than most people had never heard of injury spinal cord (SCI). In fact, fellow actor and co-star, Richard Erdman (Leo in men) admits to ask a medical SCI leader at the time, Dr Ernest Bors, by Erdman had never heard of a paraplegic – the same role that was going to play. The answer: there were none. At least until the war when medical as Bors, with the discovery of antibiotics, helped maintain spinal cord injured World War II veterans and civilians paraplegic I live already that their life expectancy before the war of eighteen months.

there are countless reviews of the film of men on the Internet and elsewhere; copies of the film are also available.

the film itself takes place in the Hospital in Birmingham in Van Nuys, CA veterans. Interestingly, approximately forty-five real paraplegic patients participate in the film, mostly as extras, but a number with parts talking / acting. Speaking of ‘firsts’, the public movie – going also entered the newly formed veterans organization, the Association of Paralyzed Veterans (PVA). In 1946, paralyzed veterans were organizing what eventually evolved into a national organization, known today as the paralyzed veterans of America, with chapters in ski centres in the VA Birmingham, the Bronx VA, this (Staten Island, NY) Halloran General Hospital, Naval Hospital of St. Albans (Long Island, NY), Veterans Hospital of Hines (Chicago area) , Hospital de veterans McGuire (Richmond, Virginia), Kennedy (Memphis, TN) and Cushing (Framington MA).

in February 1947, delegates of seven existing chapters (Cushing not could finance the trip) gathered in Vaughan of the Hospital Unit of the VA Hines for the first Convention of the Association of paralyzed veterans of America. Pioneer PVA Gilford S. Moss (Vaughan chapter) that he sent a letter asking for the formation of a national organization became the first President of the group. They were also present among PVA ‘Foundation delegates’ Robert Moss (no relation to Gilford, who would continue as the second President of PVA), Donald P. Coleman, Joseph Gusmeroli, George Holmann, Fred Smead, Walter Suchanof, Alex Mihalchyk, Harold Peterson, William Day Jr., Marcus Orr, Kenneth Seaquist, Eldred Beebe, Joseph Gillette, Alfred Gore and Harold Sharper.

the birth of PVA, together with connecting paraplegics from across the country, also served to bring together through the national organization of the Paraplegia news magazine. Each Member of the PVA from New England to Southern California received this monthly newspaper with information primarily from new medical breakthroughs in legislation on the performance of these survivors of the latest battlefield news from other chapters of PVA.

the four main parties paraplegic men were interpreted by actors healthy Brando, Erdman, Jack Webb (Dragnet television fame) and paraplegic Arthur Jurado. Interestingly, men with paraplegic to play the part of paraplegics would be a novel idea, it was held today. Unfortunately, some segments of society still have to wait on ‘the bus back’.

in addition to jury, included patients in hospital who had rolls speak / Act on the company Pat Grissom (himself), Randall Updyke III (Baker), Tom Gillick (fine), Carlo Lewis (Gunderson), Ray Mitchell (Thompson), Pete Simon (Mullin), Paul Peltz (Hopkins), Marshall (Roman) Ball, William Lea, Jr. (Walter), Obie Parker (the viewpoint) and Sam Gilman (uncredited). Bud Woziak (which, according to Turner Movie classics, was used as a model for the character of Brando) joined Ted Anderson, Pat Grissom, Pete Simon and Herbert Wolf as technical advisers for the film.

for those that men have not seen: (Lt. Ken Wilozek ‘Bud’ played by Marlon Brando) boy meets girl (Ellen starring Teresa Wright), boy goes to war, but not before proposing to a girl, Guy has a bullet in the back while on patrol, boy is paralyzed, boy shows up in the Birmingham VA SCI unit still unable to cope with his paralysis a year later , girl waiting for boy to ‘recover’ asks to see it, boy and girl to resume the ritual courtship, boy marries girl and move at your own home, boy and girl have marital problems and returns the child to the hospital to live, child lashes out and fellow patients – PVA councilors – vote to kick his butt out, boy and girl, reconcile and live happily ever… maybe.

the illuminated film lovers of the cinema in 1950 and still have unique educational value. Many of the situations dealt with in the film still apply: adjust to a catastrophic injury, rehabilitation, relationship – or lack of it, camaraderie and veteran helping his fellow veteran and the reality sometimes difficult to return to a society that only recently seems willing to accept its citizens with disabilities. Unless you’re a paraplegic or quadriplegic, with a family member or friend with SCI, or work in the field of rehabilitation, chances are that you will get a lot of understanding of men of vision.

as well as deal with issues more than recently injured paraplegics (and tetraplegic – no distinction in the film) are facing today, what would the men? Although Brando’s character makes his way outside the safe confines of the Birmingham Veterans Hospital and begins a new life in a world not yet ready to receive it, what would the other? We know that Angel (Arthur Jurado character), the super so I was preparing for discharge to reunite with his family, tragically becomes ill and dies. What about the others? In 1950, nobody knew. Many assumed that a cure would no doubt find.

who viewed the men may have gotten the impression that all paraplegics would be rehabilitation – except for those that died of its injuries or an isolated disease – and be discharged in the world which showed character of Brando was not willing to accept them.

the film shows how difficult that was for the first paraplegic to rejoin society. Leave the hospital and go to the ‘real’ world were, without plan or path to follow, an unimaginable challenge, even for the paraplegic in good shape. The tetraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, sometimes with limited or no use of their hands and arms? Wilozek, at least, was a low level to operate independently – almost – with a few physical obstacles (steps) to be overcome and a loving spouse to support it. Paraplegics and tetraplegics who lived in the Northeast or Midwest? How many barriers as well as steps and cold weather have to overcome? These were the true pioneers – the men who are responsible in uncharted waters and lead the way.

the most ancient battle field of paraplegia survivors were being treated and given treatment in the infancy of this new and challenging area of medicine, in the majority of cases, doctors, nurses and therapists with relatively without prior experience in the field of SCI Paraplegia. It was as new to the hospital staff as their new patients.

a despite the efforts of the Organization recently formed of veterans, including make cars and subsidies for housing for its members, are making progress slow in crucial areas. A cure for SCI was difficult to achieve. Though some paras and quads were fortunate to live in warmer regions of the country which also they were more accessible than those where stairs and cold, often snowy climate, made it extremely difficult. Sitting in a wheelchair staring out the window at a foot of snow with freezing for months it can be quite depressing. Not to mention the fact that, for many young people that it has rehabilitated successfully, once cleared snow and hot climate, where few places to go have no steps. Architectural barriers remained in place for years. Barriers more attitude! The uncomfortable sight of strange characters of Brando experienced in the restaurant scene then were part back common. Human nature? Social change and the ‘acceptance’ came slowly for most disabled citizens. But for wheelchair users, disabled more obviously took more time.

it is not surprising that many paralyzed veterans – especially the more dependent on tetraplegic – rarely came out of the hospital and they never went home. That care you? What happens with aquellos whose families lived on the second floor of a multifamily housing?

a life after SCI for many options were limited. For each type of Bud paraplegic independent Wilocek who lived in Southern California was a sort of Christopher Reeve dependent caregiver quadriplegic trapped in a hospital in Hines veterans in the city of the wind, looking out the window wondering about the future.

twenty years after the release of the men, there were still “settlers”, as some articles discharged and quads referred to them, living in the hospital of Veterans SCI centers – many patients who never were House or ever intended to!

as the PVA continued to evolve, chapters were formed from Puerto Rico – as far from the birthplace of PVA of Chicago’s Hines Veterans Hospital as you could imagine, to serve the many veterans that sacrificed so much in army of Uncle Sam – to Guadalajara, Mexico for the spinal cord many wounded veterans who were willing to ‘dice’ and leave behind the snow cold and looking out the window, wondering.

while many wounded veterans lived his last years wasting away in hospitals will have fears of facing the outside world, a number of the men decided to explore the exotic check out notion here in Mexico that a number of his friends hospital spoke so well of. By the mid-1950s, there were reports and by veterans paraplegic explore and visit places in Mexico. Although most of these early stories appeared in articles Paraplegia News PVA, by word of mouth in hospitals goes and civilian centers from New England to New York to Chicago and Southern California where a steady pipeline of wheelchair users, veteran and non-veteran male and female ones – continued to join the ranks of the desperate or the adventurous enough to bet their future happiness – or lack thereof – in this intriguing ‘ South of the border ‘ option.

in 1964, there were many veterans paraplegic and quadriplegic, now living in the vicinity of the city of Guadalajara that called for national PVA a chapter in Mexico. The chapter of Mexico was going to serve veterans, non-veterinarians and the local community for the next 20 years.

thanks to the presented work and selfless sacrifice of so many paralyzed veterans in the last sixty-five years, paralyzed veterans of America today is an organization of first class service veteran with thirty-four chapters in the United States and Puerto Rico.

for those interested in an entertaining and educational film about the first survivors of catastrophic injury whose cure has eluded the world’s top medical researchers for decades, only want to take another look at the men.


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