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On the Waterfront (1954)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  22 June 1954 (Japan)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 91,340 users   Metascore: 88/100
Reviews: 276 user | 128 critic | 10 from

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.



(screenplay), (based upon an original story by), 2 more credits »
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Top 250 Movies #124 | Won 8 Oscars. Another 21 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Tender love...terrifying conflict! See more »


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 June 1954 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Hook  »

Box Office


$910,000 (estimated)


$9,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debuts of Johnny Seven, Michael V. Gazzo, Pat Hingle, Martin Balsam, and Eva Marie Saint. The last gave a debut performance that won her the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. See more »


Towards the end of the film when Terry confronts John Friendly at the little club house on the river, a Coke machine on the porch appears and disappears between cuts. See more »


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

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over a bamboo-type mat background. See more »


Here Comes the Bride
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Powerful portrait of N.Y. docks , being stunningly performed and excellently directed by Elia Kazan
4 May 2012 | by See all my reviews

This compelling and dynamic drama is set on New York's dock where mobsters control the Union and stevedores . An ex-prize fighter named Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando who deservedly won an Academy Award) turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses (Lee J Cobb) and is embroiled in violence . Malloy faces the dilemma of whether or not to turn informer . While his brother (it was originally offered to Lawrence Tierney , but he asked for too much money so the role went to Rod Steiger who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance) is a crooked lawyer and he meets a beautiful ex-nun (Eva Maria Saint , Grace Kelly turned down the role of Edie Doyle, deciding to make Rear Window instead) and falls in love for her .

This interesting and thought-provoking film contains intense drama with pungent lines , emotion , wonderful performances , memorable final , magnificent direction and classic musical score by the maestro Leonard Berstein . Marvelous acting by entire casting . The taxicab scene , one of the most famous scenes in the cinema, in which Brando began to improvise some dialogue, surprising Rod Steiger ; after a while, Elia Kazan told Brando to "knock it off". The problem Brando had with the scene, as he explained to screenwriter Budd Schulberg and Kazan, was that he felt he would have difficulty trying to talk reasonably with his brother with a gun at his ribs , at this, Kazan agreed and told Brando to improvise ,Kazan maintained that he did not direct Brando nor Steiger in this scene, he simply stood back and let the two actors direct themselves. The idea for the film began with an expose series written for The New York Sun by reporter Malcolm Johnson , the articles won him a Pulitzer Prize and were reinforced by the 1948 murder of a New York dock hiring boss which woke America to the killings, graft and extortion that were endemic on the New York waterfront. Budd Schulberg was captivated by the subject matter, devoting years of his life to absorbing everything he could about the milieu. He became a regular fixture on the waterfront, hanging out in West Side Manhattan and Long Island bars, interviewing longshore-union leaders and getting to know the outspoken priests in Hell's Kitchen. The leading characters were based on real people: Terry Malloy was based on longshoreman and whistle-blower Anthony De Vincenzo; Father Barry was based on waterfront priest John M. Corridan; Johnny Friendly was based on mobster Albert Anastasia. On the Waterfront is widely known to be an act of expiation on the part of Elia Kazan for naming names to HUAC during the Joseph McCarthy witch-hunts of the 1950s. What is less widely reported is that Kazan intended it as a direct attack at his former close friend Arthur Miller who had been openly critical of Kazan's actions. Specifically, it was a direct response to Miller's play The Crucible.

This trend-setting film has a gritty portrait of N.Y. waterfront and stand up well nowadays and resulted to be a huge financial hit , as from a budget of just under $1 million, the film went on to gross ten times its production costs in its initial release. Film debuts of Michael V. Gazzo, Pat Hingle, Martin Balsam, and Eva Marie Saint. The last gave a debut performance that won her the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. It's a winner all the way , winning eight Academy Award , including : Best Picture , Direction (Kazan) , Cinematography (Boris Kaufman) , Art Director (Richard Day) . Rating : Very good , above average , and a real must see . Well worth watching .

15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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