On the Waterfront

Topics: On the Waterfront, Karl Malden, Marlon Brando Pages: 12 (3621 words) Published: February 11, 2013
On The Waterfront (1954)

Terry Malloy dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny's thugs, and later meets the dead man's sister and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry, who tries to force him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.

Marlon Brando... Terry Malloy
Karl Malden... Father Barry
Lee J. Cobb... Johnny Friendly
Rod Steiger... Charley 'the Gent' Malloy
Pat Henning... Timothy J. 'Kayo' Dugan
Leif Erickson... Glover
James Westerfield... Big Mac
Tony Galento... Truck
Tami Mauriello... Tullio
John F. Hamilton... 'Pop' Doyle (as John Hamilton)
John Heldabrand... Mutt
Rudy Bond... Moose

Director: Elia Kazan


Codecs: XVid / MP3

Elia Kazan's film is still amazing after 50 years. It's curious how it parallels Kazan's own life in the way the main character, Terry Malloy, ends up naming names to the commission investigating the corruption on the waterfront, the same way the director did in front of the HUAC committee, presided by the evil Senator Joe McCarthy and his henchman, Roy Cohn.

Bud Schulberg's screen play is his best work for the movies. It also helped that Elia Kazan had a free reign over the film, which otherwise could have gone wrong under someone else's direction.

Terry Malloy, as we see him first, is a man without a conscience. He is instrumental in ratting on a fellow longshoreman, who is killed because he knows about the criminal activities on the piers. At the same time, Terry is transformed and ultimately redeems himself because he falls in love with Edie Doyle, the sister of the man that is killed by the mob.

Terry Malloy is a complex character. His own brother Charley, is the right hand man of Johnny Friendly, the union boss. Charley is trying to save Terry. It's clear that Charley is going to be sacrificed because of the way he is acting by the same people he works with. In a way, the death of young Doyle is paid back with Charley's own, an interesting twist of events, when it should have been Terry the one that had ratted in the first place.

Marlon Brando had his best opportunity here. Everyone lavished praise for his performance. I don't know whether it was me, or what, but the way he played Terry, at times, is an enigma. Could it be the way he speaks? The taxi scene, when he speaks in his famous line, his voice sounds so out of character. Maybe it was Brando's take on the character, but in retrospect, he doesn't sound like a New York wise guy.

Eva Marie Saint, whose made her debut in the cinema in this movie, is excellent as the sweet Edie. It's incredible she stays with Terry even though he's been instrumental in the death of her own brother. She is obviously in love with Terry and will do anything for him. Karl Malden's character is also symbolic. He represents the sanity and the salvation for an otherwise horrible person, because Terry up to this point has no conscience and he is resentful for the fact he never got to be somebody when he had a chance in the boxing ring.

Lee J. Cobb, one of the great actors of the American movies gives a detailed performance as Johnny Friendly, the boss of the union local that controlled the waterfront. Rod Steiger, as the crooked brother Charley was amazing. There are a lot of minor roles such as Martin Balsam, who went to bigger and better things. Also, a non speaking Fred Gwynne who is part of Friendly's crew.

This films owes a great deal to the black and white cinematography of Boris Kaufman and to the great musical score of Leonard Bernstein. Was it me, or was this film an inspiration for the music he later composed for West Side Story?

One of the greatest films of all times....
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