Thursday, 23 August 2012

On The Waterfront

On The Waterfront, 1954
Directed by Elia Kazan
Nominated for 12 Oscars, Won 8
Up Against: The Caine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain

Terry Malloy used to be a prize fighter, but now he raises pigeons and works on the docks, running errands for the corrupt union boss, Johnny Friendly. One of the errands Terry has to run is telling a man named Joey that he found one of his missing pigeons and that he's put it on the roof for him to come and get, Terry knowing there will be men up there waiting for him to accost him. What he didn't know was that they were going to toss him from the roof of the building, killing him. Terry immediatly feels guilty, and that guilt builds when he starts falling in love with Joey's sister, Edie, while she tries to find out who killed her brother. While the two start falling in love, Terry realizes who much better life can be, and it's not the horrible place with all indecent people he's thought it has been. When Johnny Friendly continues to kill people, and Father Barry, a local priest, challenged by Edie that she "never heard of a saint hiding in a church", and to go out there and see what's going on, tries to find information on who killed Joey. Terry starts realizing he needs to tell the truth, and he needs to bring down Johnny Friendly in the process. 

This movie came highly recommended to me by my boyfriends father. While he's more of a literature man instead of a movie man, I thought I'd take his recommendation seriously since he also spoke extremely highly of Annie Hall. So I put a hold on it at the library (subsequently it had a lot of other holds and it's taken me months to get it). But I popped the movie in just a day after getting it, and found myself enthralled by the story and by Marlon Brando. 

What, I thought, could've easily been a pretty 2D character, Brando turned it into a subtle performance, where we can clearly see Terry start to become more and more guilty and slowly realizing his philosophy of life isn't actually true. Brando was classy, with just enough tough guy to balance it out, that you knew he didn't realize believe what he said he did, and wasn't the bad guy that Edi'e father made him out to be. He was searching for something more, and Edie showed him what it was. 

The movie was well-told, and had many chilling and heartbreaking moments, including when Father Barry is praying over Kayo Dugan's body, and then starts to talk to the dozens of men around him about honesty, and cruxification, and some of the men start throwing food at him. And when Terry, beaten to a pulp, gets up and walks through all the men to enter the docks, after they declare they will only work if Terry is given work. 

The film had just enough amount of romance (doesn't Edie look like a mix of Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowski? Or at least I thought so, it was pretty uncanny) without making it too mushy. And had the right amount of action/crime in it. 

Overall, I thought this film was really well done; well acted, well directed, well written. It really deserves all the wins it received (including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Writing, Editing and Art Direction), and deserves to be revered as a classic. Yes, I really enjoyed this film. 

Acting- 20/20
Directing- 19/20
Writing- 20/20
Personal Enjoyment- 19/20

Overall Package -19.5/20

Total: 97.5/100

1 comment:

  1. Hey Heather, nice write up of On the Waterfront. That is certainly some Brando in his prime.

    However, my main reason for stopping by was to check out your blog after I saw you had recently joined the LAMB. So congrats, welcome aboard, and I hope to see you on the forums.