8.2/10
107,109
291 user 137 critic

On the Waterfront (1954)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 22 June 1954 (Japan)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (based upon an original story by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,273 ( 528)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #135 | Won 8 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW 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.

Director: David Lean
Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Disturbed Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans and is tormented by her brutish brother-in-law while her reality crumbles around her.

Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter
Chinatown (1974)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston
The Apartment (1960)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Fred Dobbs and Bob Curtin, two Americans searching for work in Mexico, convince an old prospector to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
The Sting (1973)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

In Chicago in September 1936, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
Action | Adventure | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

American film classic in which a manipulative woman and a roguish man conduct a turbulent romance during the American Civil War and Reconstruction periods.

Directors: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Pat Henning ...
Kayo Dugan
...
...
Tony Galento ...
Tami Mauriello ...
Tillio
John F. Hamilton ...
'Pop' Doyle (as John Hamilton)
John Heldabrand ...
Mott
Rudy Bond ...
Don Blackman ...
Arthur Keegan ...
Abe Simon ...
Edit

Storyline

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 <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story as warm and moving as GOING MY WAY...but with brass knuckles! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

22 June 1954 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Bottom of the River  »

Box Office

Budget:

$910,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$9,600,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Was one of the first films named to the National Film Preservation Board's National Film Registry in 1989. See more »

Goofs

During the climactic fight between Terry and Johnny, Johnny loses his scarf at one point as he and Terry scuffle. There are a couple of shots after that showing the longshoremen and Johnny's henchmen watching the fight, but when we cut back to Terry and Johnny, Johnny's wearing his scarf again. Terry then hits him and we get a closeup shot of Johnny falling against the wall and calling his henchmen for help, and in this shot the scarf is missing again. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Johnny: [to Terry] You take it from here, Slugger.
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Eva Marie Saint See more »


Soundtracks

Here Comes the Bride
(uncredited)
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A classic for all the right reasons
31 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Watching On The Waterfront nowadays, two scenes stand out head and shoulders above the rest. First is the impassioned speech by Father Barry (Karl Malden) to the gathered dock workers in the hull of a ship where he tries to rally them against the mobsters running their lives. Second is the confrontation between Terry and Charlie Malloy (Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger) in the back of a taxi which ends in one brother pointing a gun at the other and Brando's now legendary "contender speech." Both of them are sequences where the characters do nothing but talk but each is a fine example of what makes On The Waterfront the undeniable classic it is; acting, scripting, cinematography, music, everything fits into one cohesive whole and the end result is a welcome addition to any film collection.

The story here concerns Terry Malloy, a New York shipyard worker who finds his conscience bothering him when one of his friends is murdered. Terry at first is a tough guy with a grim outlook ("you know my philosophy on life, give it to 'em before they give to you") who despite his inner turmoil refuses to confess anything to the Police as it would make him a "rat." However, the arrival of Malden's headstrong Preacher and the victim's innocent sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint in her debut appearance) throws his deaf and dumb world into chaos. Soon, Terry finds himself falling for Edie and the Preacher's words hit home, leaving the angry young dockworker to question what's really right. The mob meanwhile aren't too happy about Terry's UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP and begin to pile on the pressure, especially his older brother Charlie who's torn between loyalty to his boss and looking out for his younger sibling. Before anyone can put a lid on things, the dockyard becomes a very tense place to be.

Brando of course puts his heart and soul into his performance. Terry by his very nature isn't one to carry his heart on his sleeve and so the great Method Actor is left to convey his turmoil through body language alone. It is a testament to how good he is that you can tell exactly what Terry is feeling even though he hardly ever expresses it verbally. Instead his shoulders hunch with resigned indignation and his eyes spark with anger, Brando playing the part so well he more or less disappears into the character completely. While he may have taken a lot of the credit however, he is far from the only strong presence in the film as Karl Malden's rock hard Preacher is just as compelling, his depiction of the dignified man of Christ who isn't afraid to drink beer and smoke cigarettes with the Wharf rats being a refreshingly positive portrayal of a Catholic leader. Eva Marie Saint meanwhile puts in a convincing portrayal of Edie, but she is hamstrung a little by some old fashioned writing. Her pursuit of her brother's murderers give her some powerful moments but there are a couple of instances where it becomes all too clear that the part was written by a man. However, she still gives us one of the most touching moments in the film, a confrontation with Terry where most of their chat is disrupted by a tug horn that is achingly sad despite the absence of dialogue.

Acting is only one half of the equation of course and needless to say, the story remains constantly gripping. The murder that opens the film leaves an instant grip on the viewer's attention and as Terry spirals further into an intricate web of half truths, things get incredibly dark. The New York tenement blocks that tower over the proceedings provide an imposing sense of claustrophobia while the rooftops are a smoke laden jungle of chimney stacks and TV aerials. However, if you look closely it becomes apparent that the crew still had some fun with the material and there is some subtle humour to be had - a wedding party degenerating into a brawl and a bar full of panicked customers emptying into the streets followed by a shot of one isolated individual desperately jumping into the bathroom.

All in all therefore, On The Waterfront is a film that is thoroughly deserving of its reputation. Brando excels in his role and heads up a highly talented cast giving it their all. Most of all though, it's an engaging and captivating story of urban paranoia, filled with tough guys spitting out slang in barking New York accents. Think you're a big shot, do ya? Huh? Well do us all a favour and check this one out. Ah enough a youse guys, ged outta here.


29 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?