On The Waterfront

1954



A story which at first glance appears to be about a strong-arm union, is actually the story of a man and his reaction to missed opportunities. Marlon Brando is at his droopy-eyed best as Terry Malloy, a former young boxer-turned-errand boy for the local crooked leader of the longshoremen in New Jersey. His mental facilities aren't as strong as his muscles and he unwittingly leads a neighborhood buddy to his death. He falls for the buddy's sister Edie, played by a nervous and sexy Eva Marie Saint, looking like a blonde Jami Gertz. The bulk of the film is whether or not Brando should testify against the mob or hide and lose the respect of Edie and Karl Malden, the local priest. Making things more complicated is the fact that Brando's brother, played by Rod Steiger, is one of the higher-ups in the gang.

In the most famous scene, Steiger is taking Brando to kill him so that he won't talk to the cops. Brando speaks of a big fight in Madison Square Garden when his brother made him take a fall because the mob had bet on the other guy. Brando's whole life up to that point had been his taking a dive and ruining his chance to become a champ. It's clear Brando has never forgiven his brother, and his speech about being a contender instead of a bum moves his brother in important ways. Malden is all fire and toughness as the priest. He gets over his fear and continues to encourage other longshoremen to testify. Saint is all innocent sexuality as Edie. She's been away at a convent and is attracted to Brando's level-headedness and work ethic, as well as his chest. Brando is as good as ever. He doesn't slur his words unnecessarily, and can be funny and charming and tough, all while he seems to be speaking dialogue that just came into his head. [It would be a few years before he had his dialogue fed to him through an earpiece or written on cue cards]. Brando also had already started his love of speaking while eating which he continues to this day. At a bar he's talking with Edie and eating pretzels. It really is a realism device that makes it seem like the audience is listening in on a conversation and not watching a movie.

Shown at the Mighty Castro Theater in San Francisco as part of the Library Of Congress Film Registry Tour.

Terry Malloy ... Marlon Brando [A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, Guys And Dolls, Sayonara, Mutiny On The Bounty (62), The Godfather, Last Tango In Paris, Superman, Apocalypse Now, A Dry White Season, The Freshman, Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Don Juan DeMarco]
Father Barry ... Karl Malden [A Streetcar Named Desire, Patton, Meteor, Nuts]
Johnny Friendly ... Lee J. Cobb [The Song Of Bernadette, The Exorcist]
Charley Malloy ... Rod Steiger [Oklahoma!, In The Heat Of The Night, F.I.S.T., The Amityville Horror, January Man, The Player, "Tales Of The City", "EZ Streets"]
Kayo Dugan ... Pat Henning
Glover ... Leif Erickson [With A Song In My Heart]
Big Mac ... James Westerfield [The Magnificent Ambersons]
Truck ... Tony Galento
Edie Doyle ... Eva Marie Saint [North By Northwest, "Moonlighting", Nothing In Common, "A Year In The Life"]
Gillette ... Martin Balsam [Psycho, Breakfast At Tiffany's, The Six Million Dollar Man, All The President's Men, St. Elmo's Fire, The Delta Force, Cape Fear]
Slim ... Fred Gwynne ["The Munsters", Ironweed, Fatal Attraction, The Secret Of My Success, Pet Sematary, My Cousin Vinny]
Cinematography by Boris Kaufman
Written By Malcolm Johnson and Budd Schulberg
Directed by Elia Kazan [A Streetcar Named Desire, East Of Eden, McCarthy hearings namer of names]

Theater
108 minutes
Black & White
USA

This Was Written January 22, 1998

Ratings:
10 Halliwell's
10 Maltin
10 Videohound

Praise:
~~Best Picture Of 1954 -- Academy Award Winner, New York Film Critics Winner, Venice Film Festival Winner
~~Best Director Of 1954 For Elia Kazan -- Academy Award Winner, Director's Guild Winner, New York Film Critics Winner
~~Best Screenplay Of 1954 For Budd Schulberg -- Academy Award Winner
~~Best Actor Of 1954 For Marlon Brando -- Academy Award Winner, New York Film Critics Winner
~~Best Supporting Actor Of 1954 For Karl Malden -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Supporting Actor Of 1954 For Lee J. Cobb -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Supporting Actor Of 1954 For Rod Steiger -- Academy Award Nomination
~~Best Supporting Actress Of 1954 For Eva Marie Saint -- Academy Award Winner
~~Best Cinematography Of 1954 For Boris Kaufman -- Academy Award Winner
~~Best Editing Of 1954 For Gene Milford -- Academy Award Winner
~~Best Score Of 1954 For Leonard Bernstein -- Academy Award Nomination
~~National Film Registry 1989



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