on-waterfront

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on-waterfront

ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)

Director Elia Kazan's enduring morality play features Marlon Brando as Hoboken longshoreman Terry Malloy, a washed-up boxer who suffers a crisis of conscience while working for corrupt union kingpin Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). When Friendly's thugs kill a fellow dockworker to keep him from testifying at a Crime Commission, Terry refuses to testify at first, but soon has second thoughts when the victim's sister (Eva Marie Saint) encourages him to take the stand. Based on a celebrated series of articles in the New York Sun, Waterfront won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director,  Best Actor, and Best Screenplay..

The excellent cast includes: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Martin Balsam, Fred Gwynne, Pat Hingle, and Nehemiah Persoff.

#8 on the AFI Top 100. Ten Oscar nominations; eight wins (Best Direction, Best Picture, Best Actor, Supporting Actress,Writing, Art Direction, Editing, and Cinematography)

Director, Eli Kazan, made a powerful statement with this stirring motion picture drama.

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Father Barry: "You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? It's the love of a lousy buck. It's making love of a buck---the cushy job---more important than the love of man!"

The basic story involves a loner, ex - prize fighter longshoreman, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) who inadvertently witnesses a murder of a fellow longshoreman, Joey Doyle, at the hands of two thugs, who were ordered to do this heinous act by the corrupt union boss, the infamous Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). Johnny, with the help of Terry's brother, Charlie (Rod Steiger) also organized illegal activities along the waterfront, and ran the dock workers' lives. When He meets Doyle's surviving sister, Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint) he starts to feel responsible. After Edie sees a strong quality in his character that he had never recognized before, and he is further encouraged by a rough and tumble priest, Father Barry (Karl Malden) this loner takes on the responsibility to fight the good fight, and testify before The Waterfront Crime Commission, investigating corruption, union crime, and underworld infiltration.

This 1950 message film is a classic because of its dynamite acting, involving story, and memorable musical score, by Leonard Bernstein. Its story and characters are moving and involving, staying with you long after the film is over.

This dynamic, powerful screenplay by Budd Wilson Schulberg, and Malcolm Johnson (articles), gives this talented cast a lot of great material to really shine through. Brando, Steiger, Saint, Malden and Cobb give riveting performances, that powerfully tell the story that must have really pleased Schulberg and Johnson.

My favorite scene takes place between Terry (Brando), and Charley (Rod Steiger), in the back of a taxi. Referring to a prize fight that Steiger had Brando lose, Brando delivers the classic line, "I could have been a contender, I could have been somebody, instead of a bum which is what I am."

Another great scene takes place on top of the building where Brando lives, at night. As Brando shows Eva Marie Saint his pigeons, we see the sweet soul inside the sometimes violent longshoreman.

The great, inspiring direction, by the very talented Elia Kazan, a Greek-born immigrant, may have been inspired by Kazan's own whistle blowing troubles, which happened when he sincerely reported to the House Un-American Activities Committee, the names of other directors, as a matter of principle. Obviously, this didn't make him very popular with his peers, or the Hollywood crowd then or now. When he received an honorary Oscar in the late '90's, some in the audience refused to applaud.

Some have claimed that this film was really an allegory defending the 1950's, communist "witch hunt," that has Brando's character representing Hollywood types who reported suspected communists to the House Un-American Activities Committee, much as Kazan had done.

Unionists at the time of its release accused this film as being "communistic" and "anti-American."

Despite its critics, "On The Waterfront" was a huge hit with the movie-going audience, and won eight Oscars, including: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brando), Supporting Actress (Saint), Story & Screenplay (Budd Schulberg), Cinematography (Boris Kaufman), Art Direction - Set Decoration (Richard Day), and Editing (Gene Milford).

If you enjoyed ON THE WATERFRONT, you may like A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, THE STONE KILLER, THE GODFATHER, and ROCKY.