|On The Waterfront
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- Great movie
The only thing I didn't like about this movie is the cops were to nice...way to nice. Anyways the premise of the movie will remain timeless. Until man decides to correct the injustice and apathy he produces the rest of mankind cannot follow. Marlon Brandon shines in this one as you can feel his despair and sadness and Lee J. Cobb as the antagonist likewise (the role isn't too far from his character in 12 Angry Men). If you like character driven plots powerful scenes and NO FILLER in the script (a lost art). This is for you....more info
- Not all unions were MOB run
This movie has some great acting in it.
But looking back, it may have been somewhat
misguided as the "union toughs" were actually important in
resisting the "management toughs" of hired thugs and security guards
used to break unions.In many states unions were broken and the workers suffered at the will of management.
The coal mines of West Virginia are probably one outstanding
historical example with black lung disease and long hours, bad safety conditions and no real representation of workers.
The dock workers and teamsters were MOB run, but many others unions in the trades suffered from "piece work" and union breaking tactics , even to the present.
We don't picture the Marlon Brando of this story as being a corporate
stooge in breaking unionism, but that may have been the ultimate result?...more info
- Still Packs A Punch!
Still powerful after all these years, it's easy to see why this film won so many awards. Even though it isn't classified as "film noir," it might as well be, as it has the earmarks of one: gritty, down story with a feeling of dread, magnificent black-and-white cinematography, etc. It looks great on this DVD.
It's certainly not a "fun" movie but if you appreciate superb film-making, you have to rate this near the top of the list Not only is the direction (by one of the all-time greats, Elia Kazan) superb and the photography striking, the acting also is top-rate.
Marlon Brando was just riveting to watch in here and deserved all the accolades he received for his performance. Talk about a guy with mixed emotions and a tormented soul! Eva Marie Saint, as Brando's "conscience" and love interest, proved to be worthy in her role.
The rest of the characters were angry people, always shouting it seemed, always upset at someone. Even the priest, played by Karl Malden, was that way although one of his passionate speeches was remarkable to hear.
Lee J. Cobb filled his bill as the angriest of them all, the labor boss who would have anyone killed who dare speak out against his illegal practices, and Rod Steiger was his normal intense self as Brando's older brother. Hey, almost everyone was intense in this film. It gets you involves and wears you out by the end.
Steiger and Brando's conversation in an automobile fairly late in the film ("I couda been a contenda") is one of the most famous scenes in movie history, but I found many memorable scenes in this movie....too many to recount here.
Don't be afraid to give this "oldie" a look. You'll see why it's considered one of the best movies of all time.
- STANDING UP
This is cinema at it's finest. The absolutely, superb direction of Elia Kazan, and a taut, edgy script by Budd Schulberg, and Malcolm Johnson, are almost over-shadowed by the towering performance of Marlon Brando in one of his greatest roles. The black, and white cinematography, and electrically-charged score add a stark quality to this story of corruption, courage, and ultimately, redemption. ON THE WATERFRONT should be in any cinema-lover's collection....more info
- Marlon Brando's LEGACY and GREATEST film!
This is my favorite Marlon Brando movie. I keep a list of my "50 Favorite Movies" and I have to include one Brando film, so I choose this one. I think of all the movies Marlon Bramdo made, he gave his FINEST performance in "On the Waterfront".
Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden and Rod Steiger all give excellent and memorable performances. Plus this movie was directed by one of Hollywood's GREATEST directors, Elia Kazan who directed more than one CLASSIC.
I highly recommend this film for obvious reasons. MANY fans of the cinema believe that Marlon Brando might be the GREATEST actor of the 20th century.
"You don't understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."...more info
- Capital, Capital
Brando really was something to yell for back then. If you want your mind to explode, see Sayonara. This film, On the Waterfront, is tiresome and obvious, more of a news reel than a feature film, but Brando does extremely good work. If he had a porn site, I would try to find a hacked password to it....more info
- I Coulda Been a Contenda
This is my all time favorite movie, everything about this film is perfect. Before seeing this film I was sure that all black and white movies were horrible, I was wrong and ever since the seeing of this film, most of my favorite films are in Black and White. There is so much to take from this film, Marlon Brando is exceptional, 100% flawless, Greatest movie I've ever seen....more info
- Alternately irritating and poetic
There is a part of me that will never be able to enjoy "On the Waterfront." The reason is that the director, Elia Kazan, used this movie to answer his critics. Kazan had "named names" for Joseph McCarthy's "red-hunting" HUAC. Whether Kazan did this out of conscience (as he claims) or as a "business" decision, we'll never know. But On the Waterfront, a story about a "bum" who exposes the corrupt union bosses, is more or less Kazan's defense of his own actions. I feel that what Kazan did was indefensible, so I find the very foundation of the movie somewhat offensive.
There's also some other reasons to not like On the Waterfront. Father Barry (Karl Malden) may be the single most annoying character in film history. Preachy and abrasive, he's a reminder of how smarmily self-righteous Elia Kazan was in making this movie. I also hate Leonard Bernstein's overbearing, pretentious score.
So I can't really enjoy On the Waterfront for these reasons.
But on the other hand, why do I have a copy of this film? The reason is that despite the smarmy political undertones, there are moments of incredible grace and beauty and humanity in the film. The relationship between Edie (Eva Marie Saint) and Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is one of the most sensitive of all movie love stories. I particularly love the scene in the bar -- the way Terry begs Edie to drink some beer is so pathetic and yet touching at the same time. The scene between Terry and his brother Charlie (Rod Steiger) in the back of a taxicab is also justly famous. This is probably Brando's greatest performance -- it's Method acting at its best. Terry is not the most articulate character, so much of Brando's performance is in his body language. Shoulders hunched, head tilted downwards, chewing gum nervously, he portrays Terry as a loser who knows he's a loser.
SO in the end I have mixed feelings about On the Waterfront. I find its political undertones very disgusting, but I also come back to this film for the wonderful performances. ...more info
Is Brando's performance as Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront the best screen performance of all time? Well I have never seen a better one. Watch this film and see why Brando was so highly rated. As the ex boxer turned longshoreman/borderline gangster, Brando gives a perfect performance. Yet Brando does not dominate the film, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Lee J Cobb and Eve Marie Saint all give marvelous performances, which but for Brando's would all be remembered as a high point of film acting. Malden, Cobb and Steiger were all nominated for the Oscar as best supporting actor.
The story is about corruption on the Brooklyn Docks of the nineteen fifties. It is one of the few American films to portray the working class. The black and white shots of working class Brooklyn are the perfect background for a story of a loser struggling to do the right thing dispite the social pressures on him.
Brando and Steiger in the back of the taxi cab is one of the greatest. if not the greatest, movie scene of all time.
There is nothing false or overdone in this film. All to often in films and in life working class people are told that the way to success is to move out of their communities and leave them behind. This film is about real people struggling not to leave their community, but to make that community better. Realism is everything in this film, the acting, the costumes, the sets, the story. Even today the fight between Brando and Cobb at the end of the film is shocking in it's realism.
On the Waterfront must have a claim to be the best film ever made, it is certainly one of the best two or three American films ever made.
Watch and enjoy a perfect film which will leave you gasping at the talent of everyone who had anything to do with it. ...more info
- Filled with genius, and not just that of Brando
It would take a truly stunning performance from Marlon Brando to relegate his performance as Vito Corleone in 'The Godfather' to the second best of his career, but this is what Brando delivers as Terry Molloy in 'On the waterfront'.
Only his staggering abilities were able to outshine those of Karl Malden who plays the local priest. The intensity and passion that Malden brings to his role electrifies a number of pivotal scenes in the movie. Indeed were it not for the famous taxi cab scene it may well have been Malden's scenes that were quoted and re-run on television for years after.
One of the wonderous things about this movie is it's ability to find beauty in the ugliest of settings and among the most base and unpleasant of social groups. Terry refuses to succumb to the drab inevitabilities of life on the waterfront, and strikes a chord with the audience when he hits out that he "could have been a contender". This scene and indeed the entire movie will touch on feelings in audience members of missed opportunities in life, and the idea that no matter how far someone drops they can always salvage some dignity and pride.
As Oscar Wilde said "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"...more info
- On the Waterfront
Marlon Brando teamed with brilliant director Elia Kazan for what many consider to be his best film. Gritty on-location direction captures the human desperation and sense of danger emanating from the waterfront neighborhood. The acting is absolutely top notch throughout as Malden, Steiger and Cobball perform at Brando's level. The film's ending will leave you breathless....more info
- BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i would give this movie one hundred million stars if i could. it is the best movie i have ever seen in my entire life
(P.S.- I hate kid's reviews. I know I lose credibility when I post mine under that label.)...more info
- music problem
I love this movie, but I do agreee with its critics that the music was over the top at the major plot points and climaxes. It was like, "Yes, we know this event is dramatic. You don't have to jam that point down our throats." I did like it at other points where it was jazzy and somewhat tense. The more contemporary (for its time) and jazzy music fits the mood....more info
- ratting on commies
Ratting on communists is the opposite of treason. I'll take loyalty to my country over loyalty to Hollywood any day.
Also, this movie is not wholly anti-union. It looks at the corruption of union bosses, an elite group which history has shown in many cases to be corrupt. In the case of this story the Union bosses were their bosses. The Union leaders acted more as middleman employers. It was not a true Union and the workers did not unite until the end when they threw out Johnny Friendly. It exposes the downside of unions without making a blanket statement that they are always bad. ...more info
- black and white
What is close-minded is veiwers who can never watch a movie in black and white. It was the director's artistic choice to do this movie in black and white. He had every allowance to do it in color but felt that black and white was better suited to the m,aterial. I find it ignorant, arrogant and maybe even bigoted when young viewers say that all movies should be put into color. Putting this movie into vibrant color would completely destroy the tone. It makes absolutely no sense to colorize any movie after "Gone with the Wind." Today's young viewers are so stubborn and ignorant that they probably fast-forward through the beggining of "The Wizard of Oz" to avoid the black and white....more info
- Early Brando reveals full-blown genius
Superb performances by Marlon Brando and Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint in this raw, gritty classic of union corruption on the NYC waterfront, offers a study of Brando's profound ability to become the tormented "Terry" with every subtle change of expression a reflection of the inner man. The film is as fresh and gripping today as it was 50 years ago and bears watching again and again for anyone who claims to be a student of acting, cinemantography or just plain great films that don't need to rely on special effects for their impact. - A. Madsen, Baltimore...more info
- Redemption and rage.
On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)
"I coulda been a contender!" That's the line everyone knows from On the Waterfront. It's funny, because to me, Marlon Brando's truly great scene in this movie comes about five minutes later, amid the fallout of the contender conversation. He's desperately trying to keep from breaking down, barking orders to his girlfriend while getting ready to start a one-man war against the city's crime bosses. It's great stuff. And here I was, having seen the contender excerpt at least a thousand times, thinking it was a movie about a washed-up boxer. Well, it is, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Terry Malloy (Brando) is a longshoreman, an ex-boxer who's been taken under the wing of union leader Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). As the movie opens, Terry is seen having a brief conversation with his acquaintance Jimmy, who is soon pushed to his death from the roof of a tenement building. Terry, disturbed by this, goes back to the bar out of which the union operates, protesting that he just thought "they were gonna lean on him a little." This begins Terry's long and painful journey from a longshoreman who follows the "deaf and dumb" code of the union to a man proud enough to stand up for himself and his fellow workers against the corruption at the higher levels of the union.
Man, this must have been a tough film to get through McCarthy's goons...
Amusing political peccadilloes aside, On the Waterfront really is a great movie. Kazan was at the height of his directorial power, and Brando was never better as an actor. Karl Malden, as a meddling priest willing to stand up for the little guy, does a fantastic job as well, and most of the rest of the cast range from good to great. (There are a few minor characters who seem to be there just for amusement's sake, but they don't get enough face time to really do much damage to the quality of the overall film.) If you haven't seen it, well, it's not just a movie about a washed-up boxer, that I can tell you. ****...more info
- Life on the Docks
This was the first AFI movie we saw en masse as a family and we loved it! Many generations of eyeballs were glued to the black and white images on the screen, following Brando as he went from a lowly mob thug to someone who stood up for what was right. The acting is phenomenal, and the environment is very down-to-earth and gritty. You really do feel that these people struggle to survive on the docks, to do what is right in a world full of greed and backstabbing.
While famous for Marlon Brando's famous line of "I coulda been a contender!" there are actually many lines of dialogue in here that stand out. The cinematography, the scenery, the faces of the men and women as they go about their lives, it really draws you in to the tough life they led. This definitely deserves to be in the top 10 of all films and is a great film to watch with friends and discuss afterwards.
As an aside, we were all intrigued by the metal tokens that the dock workers held in their hands as they waited on the docks, and it was amazing that in a room of 10 people of all ages, we didn't have any "real" knowledge of what was going on. We could of course make some educated guesses! But here is what I found.
As far back as the 1800s, dock workers were given metal tokens saying they were "signed up properly" to be able to work on the dock. This was to keep riff-raff and untrustworthy thieves off the docks, as well as making some money for the local guild or union. The workers would sign up beforehand and be given these metal circles, that were stamped with the local sign and in essence said "this man is a valid worker to choose".
Then each day as the ships came in, a certain number of gangs would be needed to haul the boxes. This could be only 10 men on a quiet day, or 200 men on a busy day. So each morning, all of the men who wanted to work would show up on the docks. The bosses would call out or list on a board what the day's requirements were. Then they would look out over the group and choose whoever seemed best suited. Each man would have to show his metal token as he went in to work, to prove he was in fact currently paid up and eligible.
In On the Waterfront, certain men were also giving coded winks and nods. These would be those men closest with the mob - the ones who had friends and who should be chosen first....more info
- Pretty dated now, but still fine performances...
Brando and Steiger and Malden and Cobb and Eva Marie Saint. Directed by Elia Kazan, who was on the right-wing side of the blacklist. A tale of corrupt unions and mobsters when American goods were imported and exported by ships which made New York a regular port of call. The story just wouldn't work the same if set in Houston or New Orleans or Los Angeles. You can tell this is 50 years old, but there are still acting lessons by the cargo-hold-ful visible on the screen. Everyone who claims to like movies needs to see it at least once....more info
- A Great Film...
Everyone knows about "On the Waterfront" and many people who have never seen a frame of the film can quote some of its dialogue. It's on many people's top 10 list of the best movies of all time, it's in the top 10 of the American Film Institute's Top 100 (#8). It's a legendary film, featuring one of the best screen performances of all time by Marlon Brando. The film is directed by Elia Kazan (reunited with his "A Streetcar Named Desire" stars Brando and Karl Malden) and is, apparently, as much his story as it is a work of fiction. Brando plays Terry Malloy, an ex-prizefighter that works on the mob run waterfront. After playing a small role in the death of a local kid whom ratted on Terry's boss Johnny Friendly, Terry begins dating the dead boy's sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint). When another man dies for ratting, Terry's conscience kicks in and he begins to consider ratting himself. Problem is, Terry's brother Charley (Rod Steiger) is one of Johnny's right-hand men. When Charley is killed, Terry decides to step up and avenge his brother's death...But he may get himself killed in the process. This all leads to a brilliant climax, where else, on the waterfront. Ask anyone about "On the Waterfront" and they'll associate it with "I coulda been a contender." For years, I was under the impression this was a boxing movie because of that line. Since I don't like boxing movies, I just never bothered to watch this film. Seeing it now, I realize what I've missed out on for so long. This is a brilliant piece of filmmaking, no matter what the motives for making it were. Oddly enough, the 'contender' line isn't even in the best line in the movie (my nomination would be "Conscience. That stuff can drive you nuts."). While watching the film I began to wonder...Would this film have been as good without Brando? For a man who gave so many incredible performances over the years, it's hard to say which one is the best. But you really got to take a look at "On the Waterfront" and the way Brando recites many of the lines. Would the line "I coulda been a contender" have as much poignancy and be as familiar to Americans had it not been Brando who recited it? What if Frank Sinatra had been cast in the role, as he was originally planned to be? "On the Waterfront" has a great script and great direction, it would've made a damn fine movie without Brando but I highly doubt anyone besides the biggest cinephiles would remember it today. "On the Waterfront" is a rare "great" film, in the sense that it's more likely to be enjoyed by the masses than another great film like "Pandora's Box." This is a movie you can show to the average teenage kid and they'll enjoy it. "On the Waterfront" is, in two words, a masterpiece.
GRADE: A...more info
- When movies were an art form!
This movie captured the essence of Marlon Brando and the passion of Karl Malden. I doubt there are too many times any film student could watch this film and not come away with learning something artistically different each time. The photography is incredible and the characters are unforgetable. This is a movie about human struggle and how the human spirit can overcome anything!...more info
- Hollywood's Lives of Dockworkers
The film opens on the Hoboken of yesteryear and its working class neighborhoods. Terry asks Joey to return a racing pigeon. Joey goes up to the roof: "he could sing but he couldn't fly". Joey had talked to the Crime Commission. There is the climate of fear that exists in mob-controlled neighborhoods. We see Johnny Friendly ruling his fiefdom, extracting pay-offs from shippers and forcing loans on the local members. The talk tells about things. If they can get it, they take it; the free-market system. [This film doesn't tell how the Government helped the mob to keep out real union men. Naval Intelligence made this deal after the Normandie fire.] The film shows the "shape up" where men have to scramble for their day jobs. [The 1889 London dock strike did away with this system there.] Preference is given to those who will kick-back part of their wages. Those who attended a meeting in a church basement are clubbed as they leave, not unlike union members in earlier times, or those working for civil rights in some areas then.
Edie's father tells how decades of manual labor have affected him physically. Edie will stay to find out who was guilty for her brother Joey's death. Terry tells her how hawks swoop down on pigeons. Terry and his older brother Charlie were placed in an orphanage after their father was bumped off. Terry believes in doing onto others before they do onto you, every man for himself. This rejects traditional ways where a group looked after its people, like in the old country. Then Terry gets a subpoena summoning him to the Waterfront Crime Commission. Those who talk to the Commission have their testimony handed over to Johnny Friendly. The dock scenes show unloading using the old methods, not the container system of today. Father Berry gives a sermon over the body of K. O. Dugan, killed in an industrial accident (he dared talk to the Commission).
Terry confesses to Father Berry what he said to Joey; he does not want to squeal. We learn that Terry took a dive in a boxing match; the fix was in, and ended Terry's career. He could've been a contender. Charlie is given a task: he must convince Terry to remain "deaf and dumb". Charlie's failure has fatal consequences. Terry resolves to get even against great odds. Father Berry advises Terry to appear and testify against Johnny Friendly. At the hearing the union locals say all their records were stolen the night before! What a coincidence, it can't be "conspiracy theory". Terry tells what happened the night Joey was bumped off the roof. He is told he will be blacklisted from Maine to New Orleans. [The West Coast unions under Harry Bridges aren't part of this racket. That is why Harry Bridges was persecuted in Eisenhower's regime so the mob could move in!] Terry goes to the waterfront for a final confrontation, like in an old Western. The men walk off the job to follow Terry in his challenge. But the odds are against Terry. After this the men go out on a wildcat strike, destroying Johnny Friendly's power. Things change in this film, but not in real life.
[The Kefauver Commission investigated organized crime in the early 1950s. He fell into disfavor within his own party even though the people loved him. The election of Eisenhower ended this investigation, until John F. Kennedy was elected and his brother became Attorney-General. The 1950s-1960s marked the high-water mark of union membership, and the most prosperous time for ordinary Americans. The election of Nixon and the devaluation of the dollar gave ordinary Americans a declining prosperity.]
- The perfect film
Since this movie has been analyzed for 50 years, there's no need for that here, so I'll just register my personal feeelings about it. Seeing this movie 10 years ago, in my immaturity, I thought it was "boring". After re-watching it now, I have to say that this is probably the perfect film. Realistic, dramatic, didactic, with the superb acting of Brando- wow! I can hardly think of a way that this movie could have been bettered. If any classic deserves its reputation, it's "On the Waterfront."...more info
- As a film of concern, "On the Waterfront" is about the best the American cinema has to offer...
It is difficult to come to grips with "On the Waterfront" On the one hand it has enormous strengths, indisputable elements of greatness, and on the other it is surrounded by ambiguities which cannot be wished away...
The surface concern of the film is gangsterism in the trade-union movement... The film appears to be concerned with the exploitation of working men by the mob, and thus presents itself as a reformist picture, one that demonstrates a social ill and apparently hopes that it will inspire its cure... However, on inspection, this surface concern seems little more than a gloss, covering up a story whose real concern is the problem of whether or not a man should be an informer...
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) agonizes over this problem of informing... His moral dilemma is well drawn in the film... The crucial question of whether or not to "squawk"--which provides the film's suspense--is only resolved after incidents of considerable dramatic intensity... Elia Kazan will always be remembered as the director of some of the most vivid film performances of the fifties... His film constitutes an extraordinary tour de force of fluid direction and nervous, edgy acting...
The scene between Rod Steiger and Brando in the taxicab--one of the famous scenes of American film--is an example of Kazan at his best... He himself takes little credit for it, insisting that the special way Brando says "Oh, Charley" is the key to its success... But the conviction of both actors, and the total truthfulness of their performances must be credited to a fine director working at the height of his powers...
The same could be said for the scene between Brando and Eva Marie Saint, when Brando--haunted by his complicity in the "shape-up" scene, faces a crisis of his own conscience... It is a love scene of enormous power... Brando's love for Edie Doyle, his anguish at what he must say, and her reactions to both, make it one of the truly exquisite moments in cinema acting...
Eva Marie Saint is not exceptionally beautiful, but manages to make the blood go through Brando's valves reviving and creating a heart that never existed before... There is a melancholy in her eyes, an exquisite sweet sadness...
Cobb is excellent as the arrogant racketeer Johnny Friendly, who intimidates the workers into silence, stopping at nothing to maintain his position of power on the docks... Rod Steiger gives his finest performance as Charley, the clever and suave opportunistic lawyer, who works for the local docker's union headed by Johnny Friendly...
Karl Malden is hard and clear as the activist Catholic priest who defies the abuse of labor racketeering, and urges Brando to fight for his rights and control his own destiny, rather than be a pawn in a ruthless system of bribes and killings...
'On the Waterfront' is one of the great American films... Not only because it bravely spreads a wonderful light on the violation of justice, but because it is a powerful piece of film drama, which propels a classic study of man's responsibility to his fellow man... The motion picture was nominated for 11 Oscars and won eight... The actors were all convincing, even the smaller parts for thugs...
The DVD was promptly shipped, and in excellent condition. I would recommend this seller to anyone....more info
- Of course it won the Oscar the year I was born
My entry into the world coincided with "On the Waterfront" winning the Oscar for Best Movie that year.
The best 4th of July I ever spent was on the rotting docks in Hoboken where the movie was filmed. We had imbibed a little too much and had to work at avoiding the holes in the docks so we wouldn't drown. Scenes from the movie were reinacted. But I digress.
I just wish they hadn't killed the birds. I hate that part. The movie has also raised controversy because it seemed to be Elia Kazan's giving to the McCarthyism in the 1950s. If you saw the Academy Awards show when he was presented with the lifetime achievement award, you'll remember the tense atmosphere.
Anyway, it's a great movie.
- Brilliant. Marred only by the propagandist motivation.
Everyone has heard that this movie is brilliant, and it is. There is no doubt that any fan of movies should see this movie.
All the actors are incredible and of course Brando's performance is one of the greatest of all time. I was impressed that, even though I had heard dozens of times the famous line from this movie - "I could have been a contender..." - it was still a powerful and chilling moment in the movie. The only minor misstep is the overbearing musical score, which often overpowers the dialogue, drowning out the brilliant performances.
Brilliance acknowledged, but I think it is worth noting that this is essentially fascist propaganda. Kazan, as most people are aware, chose to turn his friends and former coworkers over to the McCarthyists. This movie is something of a defense of that action, and when you watch it in that light, it loses a lot of its emotional power. Kazan clearly envisions himself in the Brando role, as someone who "courageously" stood up against his peers when they wanted him to keep quiet. The truth is more complex than that, but I would harldly imagine that cooperating with powerful fascists counts as "courageous." When you watch the movie and think about what Kazan is trying to tell you in that light, it is positively revolting.
- All the Praise is Well Deserved
Tons of praise has been heaped on this film, and there is a very good reason why: This film is as good as it gets! Combine an A1 screenplay with the masterful direction of Elia Kazan and the powerful acting of Marlon Brando, and there should be no surprise that you get a great movie.
Brando plays Terry Malloy, a Hoboken dock worker haunted by his lost opportunity to make it as a professional boxer. Malloy was a highly talented boxer who sold out his career throwing matches for the mob.
Malloy sets up a co-worker who was going to testify against the mob-controlled dockworkers union. After this co-worker is murdered, Malloy falls in love with the victim's sister (played by Eva Marie Saint). He ultimately seeks redemption by agreeing to testify against the corrupt union leaders.
The Screenplay had special significance to Kazan as he had testfied truthfully before HUAC and, for so doing, was vilified by his former Stalinist cohorts and their liberal apologists.
With his performance in "On the Waterfront," Brando outdid even himself, setting a new, higher standard of acting excellence. Previously, actors were supposed to concentrate on their outward appearance. Brando found his characters by focusing on the inside.
You will notice that there are very few negative reviews of this film at Amazon, and that's partly because it takes a very creative reviewer to find something to criticize in it. It is truly a work of art and one of the greatest films of all time. ...more info
- Classic story and powerful acting
Seamlessly unraveling on multiple levels, On the Waterfront has the period splendor of New York harbor culture, strong performances and a tightly woven suspense story. There are many memorable scenes including the famous "I could have been a contenda" speech and a powerful portrayal of a worker strike. On the Waterfront seems to have a frank message in the uplifting power of friendship, belief in the common man and conscience. Religious sentiments are echoed by a preacher in the film who seeks to stir up dock workers to testify against a murderous mob leader. Marlon Brando stars in the lead role as "Terry," a dock worker with mob ties, who begins to realize that there is more to his work and friendships than simply taking orders and keeping his mouth shut. His performance here goes deeper than in A Streetcar Named Desire. A gradual awakening to the choice he must make, along with the tender way he handles the other characters was really unexpected compared to the rugged machismo of his other roles. The symbolism with the doves and the hawks was not lost on me. The colloquial exchanges and careful depictions of day to day heroism still enlighten the social conditions over fifty years ago.
- Benefits from on location filming a lot
Plus a lot of outdoor scenery in that on location. Gives it realism. Look if this movie had been made in a Hollywood studio it would of been only half as good. Brando did well but he's vastly overrated here on this site. There really isn't any swearing or other 3dimensional behavior by characters in film. I think for sure it was a combination of elements more than just MB himself....more info