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.
You think you're God Almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin' mug! And I'm glad what I done to you, ya hear that? I'm glad what I done!
On the Waterfront is directed by Elia Kazan and adapted to screenplay by Budd Schulberg from a series of Malcolm Johnson articles. It stars Marlon Brando, lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Pat Henning. Music is by Leonard Bernstein and cinematography by Boris Kaufman.
Terry Malloy (Brando) was once a boxer with potential and big dreams. Now working as a longshoreman on the docks for mob boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb), Terry witnesses the murder of a fellow dock worker and finds himself conflicted about if he should inform to the crime commission about what he knows, more so as he gets in tight with the dead man's sister.
As good as anything Kazan, Brando and Kaufman ever did, On the Waterfront strips it down to a stench filled corrupt part of New York as honest hard working men battle to make ends meet under the rule of corrupt mob led union bosses. The dialogue is almost lyrical in its simplicity, deftly at odds with the dull pallor of the environment involving barely livable housing and misty docks holding awful secrets.
Although a defence for squealing, with the finger pointed at those in the high chairs here, it's a seminal classic that deserved every Oscar win and nomination that it got. From the electric "contender" speech (watch Steiger's facial acting here), to Brando's heart aching discovery of his beloved bids being killed, and onto the unforgettable punch the air finale, thisis a s good as classic cinema gets. 10/10
Columbia Pictures, Horizon Pictures by Elia Kazan, Budd Schulberg, Malcolm Johnson, Robert Siodmak.
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb.
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Keywords: new jersey murder mafia black and white union dock longshoreman pigeon
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