Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
On the Waterfront
The Man Lived by the Jungle Law of the Docks!
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.
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…
Some people just have a face that sticks in your mind.
I'm eternally grateful to Elia Kazan for casting exceptionally handsome leading men in his films: James Dean, Gregory Peck, and my all-time favorite, Marlon Brando. In A Streetcar Named Desire Brando displayed such raw sex appeal and naturalism that I keep forgetting that I didn't like the film. But On the Waterfront is (finally!) a film starring Brando I can truly enjoy.
It's such a pity that he didn't seem to give a damn about his career. One look at his filmography and you wonder what the hell he was thinking, squandering his looks and talent all those years. Thankfully, On The Waterfront is utterly gripping from start to…
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…
On the Waterfront is an American classic, no doubt about it. Elia Kazan's film is a tough crime drama about corruption, guilt and the working class. It features an acting performance by Marlon Brando that has been rightly lauded as one of the great's in movie history - and redefining the whole concept of acting on screen, the rest of the cast all contribute fine work too, especially Lee J.Cobb, Karl Malden and Even Marie Saint. The film is wonderfully scripted and scored too.
Terry Malloy works on the docks, toiling through life, His brother Charley works for shady Union boss Johnny Friendly and by way of association Terry is given the easier jobs down on the waterfront. One night…
This is saying a lot, but On the Waterfront is quite possibly my favorite movie of all time. At the least it is certainly way, way up there in the list. I'm sure you can read all sorts of analysis, criticism and commentary on the film, but for me it's the pinnacle of cinema in all facets - music, dialogue, acting, sound, cinematography, narrative etc. The three leads - Brando, Cobb & Saint - are flawless, and the story is expertly woven and written. Cinema just does not get any better than this.
Elia Kazan's conscience-laden documentation of union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen sees leading man Marlon Brando in fine fettle as ex-prizefighter Terry Malloy.
The film, which is inspired by the personal backstory of its director, is a remarkably powerful piece of work that gave Brando a vehicle through which he could further distinguish himself as one of America's finest actors. Every scene featuring Malloy, of which there are many, grants Brando the opportunity to fill the screen and he duly obliges every time. That's not to say that the supporting cast of On the Waterfront leave anything to be desired, rather that Brando's depiction of the morally challenged Malloy is nothing short of show-stealing.
On the Waterfront is of course…
Perhaps the best classic film (pre-1960) of all time. Performances that were well ahead of its time, holding up to today nearly sixty years later, is only a small percentage of On the Waterfront's timelessness. Aside from the performances of Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, and newcomer Eva Marie Saint, the score by Leonard Bernstein only elevates every aspect of this film. On top of it all, a taut, beautifully-written story by Budd Schulberg gave director Elia Kazan the chance to make a career-defining film that would forever leave his footprint on American cinema.
If you are a true cinema lover, classical American cinema in particular, you must do yourself a favor and buy the Criterion…
2nd viewing (viewed in 1.33:1 aspect ratio via Criterion Blu-ray). Really good script, even better performances. Although it still hasn't made that step to truly emotionally connecting for me. Yet. Glad I got to see it again though.
Definitive Marlon Brando. An essential Hollywood classic with unending influence.
Before getting to Brando, I must acknowledge the other players for their stellar performances. Eva Marie Saint is just that, a saint, and she gives a heartfelt performance as Edie. It is her love and care that leads Terry to turn himself around, because she sees a little piece of humanity left in him. Karl Malden has perhaps one of his finest roles as the Father who represents a man of the faith remarkably. He is no joke and he does not cave to hypocrisy. His waterfront sermon is one of the most powerful moments:
"You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? It's the love of a lousy buck. It's making the love of the lousy buck -…
Widely regarded as one of Hollywood's greatest masterpieces, Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront is a powerful film that is by far its director's most praised and acknowledged work. Filmed with class, expertly written, and flawlessly acted, this is a truly admirable piece of work in every way. Worth-mentioning as well that Marlon Brando here delivered arguably the performance of his career.
Only complaint is a a few clunky lines of dialogue and an omnipresent score that is bit much for a smaller scaled film like this. Outside of that this works so outstandingly. Brando is as great as advertised, able to swiftly shift from a follower, to pursuing a woman, to standing up to the people who run the city to the detriment to everyone but him and his co-workers without missing a beat. It's also a tad shocking that this is Eve Marie Saint's first foray in to film, showing so much confidence and self-assurance throughout, never once intimidated by Brando or the power of the story. Great stuff.
19] On the Waterfront - 6/10. A solid film but not amazing. Brando was great & the story was interesting, but it didn't pull me in.
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