After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British Colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.
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.Written by
Colin Tinto <email@example.com>
Eva Marie Saint on Marlon Brando: "I did refer to him once as a hummingbird because you just felt his sensitivity - his sensitivity to life, I guess, and certainly to the other actor and to the material and to the moment at hand. A hummingbird you're in awe of and you can't really catch it, but every time I see one I wish I could get even closer. And so, Brando, in that sense, is humming with all that sensitivity, and in the beginning in put me off a bit. It felt like he understood me more than I understood myself, knew more about me than I felt I knew myself. And after a while I just relaxed. And I'd come from the Actors Studio, we all had, so I just relaxed and used that. I've never been intimidated by other actors because 'I'm' an actor. I'm not in awe, but I certainly have respect for other wonderful actors. People ask me 'weren't you nervous opposite Marlon Brando?' But no, I was at the Studio, and he was a member and a fine, fine actor." See more »
The label on the bottle of "Paddy" whiskey changes orientation in every other shot when Johnny Friendly is telling Charlie to straighten out his brother. See more »
You take it from here, Slugger.
See more »
Opening credits are shown over a bamboo-type mat background. See more »
Criterion Collection Blu-ray Disc release exhibits the film in 1.66:1, which is widely regarded to be the "correct" aspect ratio for the film. However, a second disc includes the film in 1.33:1 AND 1.85:1, so that viewers can watch the film in the different ratios. See more »
Back in the early 1950's, after a movie had run its course at the theaters, it did not go to video. Nor did it go on prime-time TV, as that concept came up many years later. Instead, they put it on afternoon TV, sometimes around dinner time. Well, that's when I'd come home from high school, and got to enjoy free black and white classics such as "High Noon" and "On the Waterfront".
It made a moviefan of me for life. I remember the effect of "On the Waterfront", as I remember thinking about Terry Malloy in that final scene, "Wow, that guy's got guts! I wish I could be like him." Being just a typical Midwestern teen, I didn't know who Marlon Brando was, but I just was fascinated by this life of these good and bad people, on the tops of buildings and in the cold, wet streets and alleys of this far-away place near the waterfront.
Now, every time I watch it, years later, I still love it. Yes, there is definitely an attempt to make Terry into a Christ-figure at the end. That's no coincidence that he stumbles from having been beaten to a pulp, to walk and carry a hook on his shoulders, to lead others to a better life. (In the book by Budd Schulberg, by the way, Terry disappears after testifying and what is thought to be his body is found floating in a barrel of lime. But he has become a legend on the waterfront.) I love the powerful Elmer Bernstein score (glaring for our present tastes, but back then, exactly what people expected to hear during a drama -- you've got to wonder what a future generation will say about the constant replays of fairly irrelevant pop and rap songs as themes during most movies today, dramatic or comedy).
And being raised in a Catholic home, I found Father Barry to be a great dramatic figure, one of the only times I saw a priest portrayed as a gritty, brave, heroic person, not afraid to mix it up with the common folks in the parish. He smoked, drank and slugged it out. And he was not afraid to die for the right reason. Folks, that's true Christianity at work. And that's powerful.
A classic. A must-see. 10/10
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