On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I've seen a few Kazan movies in the last year; when considered in context of his life, the themes emerge. Men stand up, or they're less than men. Honor is everything. Honor is an individual thing, not a matter for groups, although groups will follow you if you do the right thing. (And if they don't, if you give up names to McCarthy and are criticized for it... well, you can make a movie in which they do the right thing.) Women are the lodestone by which men can find their way back to honor.

Nonetheless, this is a brilliant movie. That dance between Lee Cobb and Marlon Brando is lovely; for my money, none of Brando's performance really works without the sharp-edged anger Cobb brings to the screen. Not as significant, but I also loved Pat Henning's longshoreman. Fierce, brave, and aware of his own inevitable doom? That's pretty solid work.

Towards the end, Brando breaks into Eva Marie Saint's apartment -- literally -- and forces a kiss on her. She melts. I don't think it added anything at all to the plot, it's just a thing that Kazan and Schulberg thought would happen.