Today, we're reviewing the classic film "On the Waterfront"(1954). The great Marlon Brando, gives one of his greatest performances. Winner of eight Oscars( including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress); the film enhanced American cinema as we know it. Director, Elia Kazan pushed the boundaries that continue to inspire today. The film connects on so many levels with audiences.
The film follows Terry Malloy (Brandon). Terry is a former boxer who works at the local docks. On the side he runs errands for the corrupt union run by Johnny Friendly ( Lee J. Cobb). Terry's brother Charley (Rod Steiger) works for Friendly, which automatically makes him an associate.
The films begins with Terry setting up a meeting with the Johnny's associates and Joey Doyle. Terry naively thinks that Friendly's men will just talk to Joey to scare him. The men murder Joey in cold blood. At this point Terry has become so nonchalant to his mediocre life, that he turns a deaf ear to it. He, like the rest of the men working at the docks are scared. His life revolves around his pet pigeons that he attends to and working. In his mind his shinning hour was boxing. He was talented, but he was told by his brother (Charley) to throw fights to fatten Johnny Friendly's pockets. Since then he's been going nowhere fast and is content with it.
Father Barry (Karl Malden), and Joey's sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint) want justice for Joey's murder. Father Barry calls the dock workers together and ask if anyone knows who killed Joey to come forward. Terry quickly becomes close to Edie. She seems to be the only one who appreciates his company, and listens to him. Terry develops strong feelings for Edie. He admits to Barry his knowledge of Joey's murder, and considers testifying against Friendly. He feels as if it's the right and moral decision to make.
Terry feels as though he has nothing to lose. In the end his reputation as a stool pigeon will stick with his co workers if he testifies. His brother being a member of Friendly's team, and them being willing to murder has to be acknowledged. The dilemma is prevalent.
Brando gives a riveting performance in this film. Considering Brando's various roles, this film takes on a different life form. Most of the time the characters he portrays are charismatic and confident. In "On the Waterfront" his character is reserved and serene. There's less testosterone and more emotion. Playing a role where he's holding back, is a different space for him. Fortunately, the Academy acknowledged this and deservedly awarded him with the Academy Award in 1955. Great movie that every classic film fan will enjoy.