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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 92,773 users   Metascore: 88/100
Reviews: 275 user | 129 critic | 10 from Metacritic.com

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 Rated 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 <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It walked away with just about every award there was - and it still could ! 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?


Elia Kazan admitted having uneasy feelings about shooting on location near Mafia operated businesses and hangouts. Local hoods connected to the Costa Nostra were constantly watching the production from the sidelines and would occasionally intimidate Kazan and his crew. Kazan eventually employed an armed bodyguard, Joe Marotta, the brother of the local chief of police. See more »


In the beginning of the movie in the first bar scene after Terry has set-up Joey Doyle, when 'Skins', the man from 'Greenpoint', is asked by Johnny Friendly if he "handled the sheet metal", Skins says, "yes, it was easy, here's 45 Bills" (meaning $4,500.). Friendly gives the money to Terry's brother, Charlie the Gent', to count. After he does Charlie erroneously tell Friendly the total is $2673.00, i.e., the amount 'Big Mac' says is the total of Friendly's cut from the day's shape-up of the 813 Union members that worked that day, instead of $4500. 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

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User Reviews

Powerful every time I see it
3 October 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Back in the early 1950's, after a movie had run its course at the theaters, it did not go to video. Nor did it go on prime-time TV, as that concept came up many years later. Instead, they put it on afternoon TV, sometimes around dinner time. Well, that's when I'd come home from high school, and got to enjoy free black and white classics such as "High Noon" and "On the Waterfront".

It made a moviefan of me for life. I remember the effect of "On the Waterfront", as I remember thinking about Terry Malloy in that final scene, "Wow, that guy's got guts! I wish I could be like him." Being just a typical Midwestern teen, I didn't know who Marlon Brando was, but I just was fascinated by this life of these good and bad people, on the tops of buildings and in the cold, wet streets and alleys of this far-away place near the waterfront.

Now, every time I watch it, years later, I still love it. Yes, there is definitely an attempt to make Terry into a Christ-figure at the end. That's no coincidence that he stumbles from having been beaten to a pulp, to walk and carry a hook on his shoulders, to lead others to a better life. (In the book by Budd Schulberg, by the way, Terry disappears after testifying and what is thought to be his body is found floating in a barrel of lime. But he has become a legend on the waterfront.) I love the powerful Elmer Bernstein score (glaring for our present tastes, but back then, exactly what people expected to hear during a drama -- you've got to wonder what a future generation will say about the constant replays of fairly irrelevant pop and rap songs as themes during most movies today, dramatic or comedy).

And being raised in a Catholic home, I found Father Barry to be a great dramatic figure, one of the only times I saw a priest portrayed as a gritty, brave, heroic person, not afraid to mix it up with the common folks in the parish. He smoked, drank and slugged it out. And he was not afraid to die for the right reason. Folks, that's true Christianity at work. And that's powerful.

A classic. A must-see. 10/10

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