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.
Colin Tinto <[email protected]>
User Reviews: I watched "On the Waterfront" last night, and I have seen it many times. This movie is a perfect capsule for any viewer. The actors are superb in their roles, the dialogue is raw and powerful, the staging is tight and reflects the claustrophobic nature of the characters’ lives in this part of Hoboken. You have the feeling that they never leave this area of maybe a few blocks, because they feel trapped by their circumstances, poverty, grueling work, and the corruption that’s endemic in this place and system.
Marlon Brando is Terry, a failed prize fighter with deep regrets and loneliness, who is a low-level thug in this corrupt system dominated by the bombastic, cruel union boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb in an electrifying performance). He rules the waterfront with brutality and terror. To make Terry feel even more trapped is the fact that his only living relative, his brother, Charlie (Rod Steiger), is Friendly’s right-hand man. Terry has no great ambitions in life, and seems resigned to this bleak path until fate, and two shining lights, appear in his life: Edie (Eva Marie Saint), a decent, loving, determined and angelic blonde woman, and Father Barry (Karl Malden), the local priest who can throw a punch, drink a beer and stand up to the mob with the strength of his faith behind him.
Terry and Edie embark on a seemingly doomed romance that both actors play so beautifully. You can feel their yearning, their awkwardness, their passion for each other and their deep connection — all without the explicit nudity and fake grunting used in contemporary movies. When they embrace, you feel their desperation and desire for each other in a profound way.
"On the Waterfront" is certainly director Elia Kazan’s great masterpiece. The performances are all outstanding, and Brando is just a marvel of tortured pain and passion and agony and courage. One particular thing I love about "On the Waterfront" is the scenery. Every set or outdoor shot conveys the grim, cold nature of the characters’ lives. There is no movie glamour and little comfort here. Only a hot cup of coffee made on a plug-in heating plate in a "cold-water flat," or a beer and a shot hastily consumed in a waterfront saloon are pleasures to these characters. Their clothes are patched. Edie’s hair isn’t "styled," and she wears no makeup. Terry’s face is a bit scarred. Malden’s nose is…as we all know. The gritty setting feels real. If you’ve never seen this movie for any reason, do not delay!