An ex-prizefighter turned dockworker struggles to do the
right thing when his corrupt union boss murders a friend of his.
On the Waterfront (1954)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Written by Budd Schulberg
Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint,
Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando),
Best Supporting Actress (Eva Marie Saint), Best Director,
Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography,
Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Lee J. Cobb),
Best Supporting Actor (Karl Malden), Best Supporting Actor
(Rod Steiger), Best Original Score (Leonard Bernstein)
On the Waterfront is a groundbreaking film both for Marlon Brando's career and for film itself. As Terry Malloy, Brando flaunted conventional acting and showed the world what a man was capable of when he stood in front of a camera. He truly was the GOAT of his generation, and this film is one of his best. It's a gripping crime drama about life as a dockworker under the rule of a corrupt union boss. With a stellar supporting cast as well as Brando's first Oscar-winning performance, this film has lasted over half a century.
Terry Malloy used to be a prizefighter, but he took a dive on orders of his boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb), and lost his chance at being a contender. Now, he works on the docks, doing odd jobs for the mob. When his friend is murdered, and Terry was misled about it, he starts to feel conflicted about whether or not he should go to the cops. When he falls in love with Edie (Saint), the sister of his dead friend, he's pushed further into the light. Along with the rebellious and determined Father Barry (Malden), Terry finds himself forced to pick a side. It's an intense story that drags you in and never lets you go, and the ending is so damn satisfying.
On the Waterfront is a 20th century gem that still holds up because of the amazing performances and the relatable story. It was rare to find a culturally significant film in the 50's that wasn't either a musical or super racist, so I applaud On the Waterfront for going the extra mile to make a compelling narrative with real people.