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On the Waterfront is a Americanmarker drama film about mob violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger, Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard Bernstein. It was based on a series of articles written in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson.

The film received eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. It is Leonard Bernstein's only original film score not adapted from a stage production with songs.

Plot

This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of Hoboken, New Jerseymarker. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) gloats about his iron fisted control of the waterfront. The police and the Waterfront Crime Commission know that Friendly is behind a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb ("D&D"), submitting to their oppressed position rather than risk the danger and shame of informing. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a dockworker whose brother Charley (Rod Steiger) is Friendly‘s lawyer. Some years earlier, Terry had been a promising boxer until Friendly had Charley instruct Terry to deliberately lose a fight that he could have won, so that Friendly could win money betting on the weaker opponent. As the film begins, simpleminded Terry is used to coax a popular dockworker out to an ambush, preventing him from testifying against Friendly before the Crime Commission. Terry resents being so used in the murder but is still willing to remain D&D. Terry meets and is smitten by the murdered dockworker's sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint), who has shamed "waterfront priest" Father Barry (Karl Malden) into fomenting action against the union/mob. Soon both Edie and Father Barry are urging Terry to testify. Another dockworker who agrees to testify after Father Barry's promise of unwavering support, ends up dead after Friendly arranges for him to be crushed by a load of whiskey in a staged accident.

As Terry, tormented by his awakening conscience, increasingly leans toward testifying, Friendly decides that Terry must be killed unless Charley can coerce him to keep quiet. Charley tries bribing Terry with a plum job, and finally threatens him, but recognizes he has failed to sway Terry, who places the blame for his own downward spiral on his well-off brother. In one of the most famous scenes in movie history, Terry reminds Charley that if it had not been for the fixing of the fight, "I coulda been a contender." Charley gives Terry a gun and advises him to run. Friendly has been spying on the situation, so he has Charley murdered, his body hanged in an alley as bait to get at Terry. Terry sets out to shoot Friendly, but Father Barry obstructs that course of action and finally convinces Terry to fight Friendly by testifying. In a final face-to-face confrontation with Friendly, Terry is finally getting the upper hand in a vicious brawl but is beaten nearly to death by Friendly's goons. The dockworkers declare support of Terry, and only commence work when Terry forces himself to enter the dock. Friendly is defeated as the controller of the longshoremen.

Factual background

On the Waterfront was based on a 24-part series of articles in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson, "Crime on the Waterfront". The series won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. The stories detailed widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfront of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

To add realism, On the Waterfront was filmed over 36 days on-location in Hoboken, New Jerseymarker (the docks, workers' slum dwellings, bars, littered alleys, rooftops). And some of the labor boss's chief bodyguards/goons in the film (Abe Simon as Barney, Tony Galento as Truck, and Tami Mauriello as Tullio) were real-life, former professional heavyweight boxers.
Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy and Eva Marie Saint as Edie Doyle in the film's trailer.
In On the Waterfront, protagonist Terry Malloy's (Brando's) fight against corruption was in part modeled after whistle-blowing longshoreman Anthony DiVincenzo, who testified before a real-life Waterfront Commission on the facts of life on the Hoboken docks and had suffered a degree of ostracism for his deed. DiVincenzo sued and settled, many years after, with Columbia Pictures over the appropriation of what he considered his story. DiVincenzo recounted his story to screenwriter Budd Schulberg during a month-long session of waterfront barroom meetings — which some claim never occurred — even though Shulberg attended Di Vincenzo's waterfront commission testimony every day during the hearing.

Karl Malden's character of Father Barry was based on the real-life "waterfront priest" Father John M. Corridan, a graduate of Regis High Schoolmarker who operated a Roman Catholic labor school on the west side of Manhattan. Father Corridan was extensively interviewed by Budd Schulberg, who wrote the foreword to a biography of Father Corridan, Waterfront Priest by Allen Raymond. The story was filmed in Hoboken, New Jersey, although it is a fictionalized version of events on the NYC waterfront.

Schulberg's later novel

Budd Schulberg later published a novel just called Waterfront that was much closer to his original screenplay than the version that was released on-screen. Among several differences is that, in both the screenplay and the novel, Terry Malloy is brutally murdered.

Political context

Karl Malden as Father Barry with Eva Marie Saint.
In 1952, director Elia Kazan was a witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), in which he identified many alleged Communists in the film industry. That brought him severe criticism.

The original screenplay (called "The Hook") was written by renowned playwright Arthur Miller, who was questioned by the HUAC. He was replaced by Budd Schulberg, also a witness before HUAC.

On the Waterfront, being about a heroic mob informer, is widely considered to be Kazan's answer to his critics (including his former friend and collaborator Miller), showing that there could be nobility in a man who "named names." In the movie, variations of that phrase are repeatedly used by Terry Malloy. The film also repeatedly emphasizes the waterfront's code of "D and D" or "Deaf and Dumb," remaining silent at all costs and not "ratting out" one's friends. In the end, Malloy does just that and his doing so is depicted sympathetically. Miller's response to the movie's message is contained in his own play, A View from the Bridge, which presents a contrasting view of those who inform on others.

Awards and honors

In 1989, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congressmarker and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. It is also on the Vatican's list of 45 greatest films of all time, compiled in 1995.

Academy Awards

Wins:It was the winner of eight Oscars:
Award Won Nomination Winner
Best Picture Columbia Pictures (Sam Spiegel, Producer)
Best Director Elia Kazan
Best Actor Marlon Brando
Best Story and Screenplay Budd Schulberg
Best Supporting Actor Lee J. Cobb

Winner was Edmond O'Brien - The Barefoot Contessa
Best Supporting Actor Karl Malden

Winner was Edmond O'Brien - The Barefoot Contessa
Best Supporting Actor Rod Steiger

Winner was Edmond O'Brien - The Barefoot Contessa
Best Supporting Actress Eva Marie Saint
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration Black-and-White Richard Day
Best Cinematography Boris Kaufman
Best Film Editing Gene Milford
Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture Leonard Bernstein

Winner was Dimitri Tiomkin - The High and the Mighty


Others

American Film Institute recognition

Trailer title


References

Notes

  1. [1]


Bibliography

  • Raymond, Allen, Waterfront Priest (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955); forward by On the Waterfront screenwriter Budd Schulberg


External links




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