On the Waterfront
It walked away with just about every award there was - and it still could !
On the Waterfront is a social criticism gangster film from director Elia Kazan, about an ex-boxer, who is part of the corruption of the trade unions for the men working on the waterfront in New York. A film about mob violence that won eight Academy Awards.
One of the great American Classics that somehow managed to elude me all this time.
I now fully understand what people mean when they say that acting has a pre-Brando and a post-Brando era. Brando delivers a seminal performance here that shook things up mainly because he showed a natural quality to his acting that wasn't common in those days. He wasn't articulate, was very physical and clearly improvised a lot.
As an adept of the Actors Studio he was a practitioner of Method Acting and if ever there was a definitive example of what that can do to a performance, it is shown in Brando's portrayal of Terry Malloy. In a story…
**Part of the Best Picture Project**
On the Waterfront is a masterpiece. That much anyone can be sure of as it concludes. But just why is it a masterpiece?
As I talked about in my review of Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire, that film dealt with the conflict between the old Hollywood romanticism and the incoming age of realism, where stories weren't overplayed, merely depicted. In many ways, On the Waterfront is a spiritual successor to that film, arriving after that conflict is over.
Seeing On the Waterfront in historical relevance with the other Best Picture nominees only seems to make it stand out more. Here, Italian Neo-Realism arrives to Hollywood. On the Waterfront may have aspects of it that…
Can one simultaneously love and detest a work of art?
I was surrounded by both of these feelings when watching Elia Kazan's 1954 film On the Waterfront. It often is put on lists of top films of all time, and I do think it is fantastically done, but the message of this movie deeply troubled me.
To expand on this, let me explain the history of this film a bit. Elia Kazan was at one time close friends with the playwright Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman et al) in the late forties. They often came to each other for advice and even collaborated on occasion.
Cut to the early 1950s in America. The Red Scare was in full swing…
"You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley."
There is so much I want to say about Elia Kazan 'On The Waterfront', so I gonna break it down in segments..
If anyone had any doubt of Marlon Brando acting at any point, just watch his interpretation of Terry Malloy, using the Stanislavski's system of acting, you will see there is Brando and then, there is the rest.
Eva Marie Saint, on her screen debut was not only great but a perfect…
Well, some people just got faces that stick in your mind.
You got that right, Brando.
You and your sad eyes. Your perpetually downturned mouth. Your straight eyebrows. Your chiseled features. That vein that pulsates on your forehead sometimes when you aren't even talking. That bravado in your voice. That fire in your belly.
You are too damn cool.
Young Brando had a way of bringing out a certain kind of physical energy in his early films that breathed an enigmatic life into stories that would normally be traditional movie going fare. Brando here is Terry Malloy, a prizefighter turned dock worker who begins to have a moral crisis when it comes to how he must handle his corrupt union…
Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront's huge impact on the medium of film and the ways stories have been told ever since can be felt even today. Back then, Hollywood's output consisted of sparkly, unrealistic depictions of the world that were more concerned with wit and fun than genuine drama. As fine as that is (I really like classic Hollywood), American cinema simply lacked something that at the time could be found in both European and Asian cinema in abundance. Specifically the Italian neo-realism and groundbreaking films such as Bicycle Thieves dealt with proper issues surrounding low class citizens. Sometimes depressing, but always honest and mirroring the real world, these films are extremely powerful even today. Kazan was one of if…
Sure, great direction & performances & writing & all that -- Karl Malden's crucifixion speech was especially great -- but what in the holy hell, Leonard Bernstein? Just take the strings out for a walk once in a while; the way they'd swell up (and stay up) during extended conversations or monologues was obnoxious nearly to the point of hilarity. Even during the sacrosanct "I coulda been a contender" scene, for the luvva pete. I know Cobb & Steiger can be loud, but they're not THAT loud. (I would've loved more shouting matches between the two of them, though.) I want to love you, baby, but damn.
There is some great acting, especially Marlon Brando whose subtle performance (uncommon of the time) really stood out from others, and the cinematography is strong. However, I feel the story veers into overwrought melodrama at times, with the blaring music dictating emotions. The pacing also feels a bit off. Still, it's entertaining enough, with a tender love story, and the story of a man fighting against the system still resonates.
Awesome and powerful film that makes Marlon Brando one of my top actors, if not THE top. It's a classic story of the working class rising up against the upper class, but done in such a powerful and original way as to make this film stand out. Terry Malone is the ultimate underdog, and the cinematography, music, and acting really elevate this one.
An awesome movie about a bunch of tough men working tough jobs overcoming their cowardice. There have been plenty of imitations of the dockworkers especially, but also other union, factory-type groups of men believing they are honoring a code among each other when they're really just being a bunch of pussies. I can't think of an instance when it's been done better than On the Waterfront (Season 2 of The Wire comes close).
Marlon Brando leads the way, but has tons of help. Karl Malden's speech after Kayo Dugan's "accidental" death was awesome.
Doubt I have much more to add to the discussion on this film, but I'm glad to have watched it and be a part now.
First time watch of this well regarded classic from 1954. I enjoyed thos film a lot but I did find a few things that are a little dated and stops me from giving it the full 5/5.
The film begins with Marlon Brando luring a man to meet a couple of local thugs who work for corrupt union/mob boss Lee J. Cobb. The men then throw him off the building to his death.
Brando at the time didn't realise that the man was going to be killed so feels guilty, things are compounded when he starts to fall for the victims sister who is played by Eva Marie Saint.
Brando is not surprisingly impressive in the lead and while I…
"Conscience... That stuff can drive you nuts."
These words, spoken by Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy, sum up why I love this film. His internal struggle with his own conscience raises the question of what defines a good person. On the Waterfront portrays Terry as a man who recognizes the bad things he has done, but who also desperately wants to prove to himself that he is good. It resonates with me in a way few films do.
I didn't love this as much as I remember loving it in high school, but it's still clearly a great film. It's easy to see what set Brando apart from other actors of the time, and the "I coulda been a contender" scene is still powerful nearly sixty years later. I'm glad I revisited it.
My first experience with young Brando. Much more impressive than I expected.
Elia Kazan is not only the actor's director, but the human's director. On the Waterfront hits straight at the heart of what workers have been feeling for a century. This film is both an intrigue with suspense and thrills, and a morality tale of becoming more than a cog in a machine. This is a film about convictions, Marlon Brando's Terry Malloy refusing to take a stand, powerfully contrasted with the determined Father Barry. This film is filled with powerful emotion and biting commentary, and I will always get chills when Father Barry shouts "This is my church!"