108 Min. | Crime – Drama – Thriller | June 1954
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Elia Kazan
Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
On the Waterfront Review
Back in the early 1950’s, after a movie had run its course at the theaters, it did not go to video. Nor did it go on prime-time TV, as that concept came up many years later. Instead, they put it on afternoon TV, sometimes around dinner time. Well, that’s when I’d come home from high school, and got to enjoy free black and white classics such as “High Noon” and “On the Waterfront”. It made a moviefan of me for life. Remember the effect of “On the Waterfront”, as I remember thinking about Terry Malloy in that final scene, “Wow, that guy’s got guts!
Yes, there is definitely an attempt to make Terry into a Christ-figure at the end. That’s no coincidence that he stumbles from having been beaten to a pulp, to walk and carry a hook on his shoulders, to lead others to a better life. Love the powerful Elmer Bernstein score. “On the Waterfront” has the classic performance of Marlon Brando, a man who is loyal to his brother Charlie even though Charlie ruined Terry’s fight career and now is part of the union corruption. Brando is sensational as a tortured young man who knows what he should do, but the price is too high. It’s his love of Edie that gives him a conscience. She’s from another world and hasn’t been jaded by life yet. It’s impossible to believe that this role was offered to Grace Kelly, but it was. Saint is perfect – warm, strong, gentle and most importantly, comes off as the kind of girl who lives in a blue collar neighborhood.
The saddest thing in On the Waterfront is the attitude of the young boy who helps Terry take care of Joey’s pigeons. He’s already been inculcated with the “D&D” (deaf and dumb) policy of the longshoremen. The cloudy, rich atmosphere of the story is captured by the Hoboken, New Jersey locations – although this is a fictionalized version of events on the New York waterfront. The end of “Raging Bull” is a homage to “On the Waterfront.” The end of “On the Waterfront” will give you goosebumps. Evil only triumphs when good men do nothing. When those same men stand up for what they believe in, they show evil for what it really is – cheap, lousy, and dirty.
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