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On the Waterfront (1954)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 22 June 1954 (Japan)
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.



(screenplay), (based upon an original story by) | 1 more credit »
3,170 ( 82)

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Top Rated Movies #140 | Won 8 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pat Henning ...
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'Pop' Doyle (as John Hamilton)
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Don Blackman ...
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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


Tender love...terrifying conflict! See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 June 1954 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Bottom of the River  »


Box Office


$910,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Marlon Brando's Oscar for Best Actor was either lost or stolen. The award did show up later when Brando was contacted by a London auction house, intending to sell the item. See more »


Inside the taxi Terry's jacket zipper jumps about between shots. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

and introducing Eva Marie Saint See more »


Referenced in Labyrinth (1986) See more »


Here Comes the Bride
Written by Richard Wagner
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Hypocritical Meta-Fiction
30 April 2014 | by See all my reviews

ON THE WATERFRONT is considered to one of the great classics of American cinema . It's easy to see why . It's a story that involves a nobody standing up to a powerful and corrupt organisation and doing the right thing , of one man making a difference . However it's impossible to watch this once you know the background of the director Elia Kazan . A Turkish immigrant to America he started off in theater and along with Lee Strasberg introduced something called " Method acting " where the actor gets in to the psychological depths and motivation of their character and effectively becomes that character . Where as previously film stars like Clark Gable , Errol Flynn etc etc were always playing a different shade of themselves a new breed of actors in the 1950s such as James Dean and Marlon Brando brought the method acting style to cinema and the method hit new heights in the late 1960s and 70s with New Hollywood . Perhaps we should be thankful for Kazan ? Maybe but the downside was Kazan was not a nice person at all from a very important moral viewpoint

This film features a corrupt union who are fleecing the workers and lining their own pockets . The Waterfront Crime Commission are very interested in bringing down this corrupt union but they have a problem in that no one wants to talk to them and the union are more than happy to arrange accidents for suspected informers such as throwing people off roofs and fearing that former boxer Terry Molloy might snitch on them because they murdered the brother of a girl Molloy is falling in love with decide to put heavy pressure on him . You might like to consider that a couple of years previously Kazan was more than happy to testify in front of The House Of Un-American Activities and named eight former colleagues he knew from the American communist party with these eight people then being blacklisted . In effect he grassed them up and stabbed his friends in the back .With friends like that who needs enemies ? Continually this film screams that informing on " bad guys " is all that's needed for good to defeat evil and unfortunately while being a red might not necessarily make you a bad person there does seem to be some sort of moral equivalence of being a murderous gangster and someone suspected of leftist leanings . I mean it doesn't matter what someone has done because if they've done something wrong then they've only got themselves to blame if someone snitches on them isn't that right ? . A snitch is a good thing

There's also a large dose of irony . The only character with a moral compass is Father Barry played by Karl Malden . Yeah I mean a Catholic priest makes for a superlative role model . Yeah I'm sure if Father Barry found out about a paedophile ring for example he'd be round the police station right away naming names ? Or maybe not . After the death of a longshoreman who knows too much Father Barry pleads in the name of Jesus for the workers to rise up against their cruel union bosses who are taking the bread from hungry babies and using it to pay for expensive suits .Let's think about this for a tiny second . If the character of Barry wasn't a priest and just an ordinary worker , and who doesn't mention Jesus and pointed out the exploitation the workers were experiencing what sort of person would Barry be ? No doubt a good guy but one with leftist , almost certainly fundamental Marxist leanings , in which case he'd automatically be blacklisted as a filthy red . Oh it's an entirely different ball game now eh comrade ? Yet another example of Americans not getting irony . And remember - no one likes a snitch

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