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On the Waterfront
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Reviews & Ratings for
On the Waterfront More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I thought that they were just gonna lean on him a little not knock him off!

9/10
Author: sol1218 from brooklyn NY
24 February 2007

****SPOILERS**** The Hoboken docks were coming under the scrutiny of a major Federal Crime Commission to investigate the mob connections of local 374 the longshoreman union in the area and it's president Michael J. Skelly aka Johnny Friendly, Lee J. Cobb. It's when longshoreman Joey Doyle agreed to testify against Friendly that things started to get real ugly.

Getting Joey's friend and fellow longshoreman Terry Malloy, Marlon Brando, to unwitting set him up by getting Joey to go on the roof of his apartment house, to get one of his lost pigeons, Friendly's thugs grabbed and threw Joey down off the roof killing him. Terry would be haunted by Joey's death in his being an accomplice in it. Later when he meets Joey's sister Edie, Eva Marie Saint, and falls in love with her Terry's guilt eventually leads him to do what Joey was expected to do, by the crime commission and Johnny Friendly, testify in open court against Friendly and his mobsters that are running the docks.

One of the great human dramas coming out of Hollywood in the turbulent 1950's that had as it's hero a man who would do the unthinkable by testifying against his fellow workers, no matter how mobbed up and corrupt they are, and in the end almost pay with his life for doing it. Johnny Friendly and his mobsters were the reason that what Terry did what he was forced to do after he had struggle with his conscience almost through the entire movie.

Terry who at first was a 100% union man and who's belief in not talking to the commission was the only and right thing to do started to see the light when he got to know Joey's grieving sister Edie and her dad Pop Doyle, John Hamilton. Being the last person to see Joey alive Terry was called to testify to the commission about Joey's "accidental" death. As Johnny Friendly got paranoid about Terry's relationship with Edie, Terry's hesitation in keeping quite about it lead to an explosive taxi cab meeting with his older brother Charley "The Gent" Malloy, Rod Steiger, Johnny Friendly's mouthpiece and right hand man. Not wanting to turn his younger brother over to Friendly's thugs who would murder him Charley in return ended up dead for not being able to guarantee his silence.

"On the Waterfront" brings out human emotions at their rawest with Marlon Brando's Academy Award performance as Terry Malloy who becomes an outcast from his union and even his life long friends in and out of the docks for being a rat, squealer, against those he worked with. There was a lot more to Terry's actions then trying to gain favor with the commission, which could really do nothing for him. It comes out in the movie that Friendly & Co. were anything but helpful to those that they represented by taking their union dues and then shaking them down, by kicking back a sizable amount of their paychecks, just to get work on the docks.

Friendly in the end made the biggest mistake of his life by instead of laying low and riding out the storm of the crime commissions investigation of his corrupt union decided to quite anyone on the docks who was willing to testify.

Terry with the support of both Edie and longshoreman fiery preacher Father Barry, Kal Malden,in the end did talk and implicate Friendly and his thugs. This only lead to Terry being beaten almost to death in the movie's final showdown between him and Johnny Friendly. The cowardly Johnny Friendly not being able to take on Terry all by himself also needed a number of his strong-arm men that included three ex-heavyweights, Tony Gelento Abe Simon & Tami Mauriello, who challenged the great Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship to do the job for him.

Terry beaten to the point where he could hardly stand on his feet staggers toward the dock work area with the now admiring longshoremen, who at first wouldn't even talk to him, not willing to go back to work unless Terry was there with them The film ends with the dock workers filing in after Terry as he makes it inside and collapses.

Excellent performances all around with a young Eva Marie Saint in her first movie role holding her own against her Academy Award winning co-star Marlon Brando as the sweet innocent and courageous Edie Doyle. It was Edie who saw through the fake and phony toughness of Terry Malloy in his trying to be macho but realizing that he was much tougher when he showed his true feelings in his sensitivity to those being abused, and even murdered, around him and willing to put an end, at the cost of risking his life, to it.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Boxers who fought Joe Louis in this film

10/10
Author: pocomarc from United States
9 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Three fighters who fought Joe Louis for the heavyweight title are in this picture, and in prominent roles, as Johnny Friendly's goons.

They are Tony Galento, Tami Mauriello, and Abe Simon.

In the scene at the beginning just after the guy is thrown off the roof, Brando goes over to stand in the last spot in a row of four figures.

Next to him is his brother, Rod Steiger.

Next to Steiger is "Two Ton" Tony Galento, who knocked Joe Louis down with a left hook in the third round of their title fight, and then was knocked out by Louis in the following (fourth) round.

At the front of the group of four is Tami Mauriello, who fought Joe Louis in Louis' second fight after Louis long World War Two break. Mauriello staggered Louis almost as soon as the fight started, and then was knocked out by Louis in the same first round.

Abe Simon was a huge man who fought Louis twice for the title, losing by knockout both times.

In the scene where the priest stands down in the hole and gives his speech next to the body of the just killed longshoresman, Abe Simon (standing up above next to Johnny Friendly) throws a can that hits the priest in the forehead.

All three fighters (long retired) had massive, broad faces, and they all did well delivering their lines.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

It's a Contender

10/10
Author: ctrout from USA
22 July 2004

The film is about Marlon Brando's dreams of becoming a boxer. But his dreams must be put aside when he must work for Lee J. Cobb on the waterfront. He takes care of his pigeons and his a normal person.

But one day, Brando witnesses a murder on an innocent kid by a couple of Cobb's men. Brando meets the kid's sister (Eva Marie Saint) and feels responsible for the murder.

Saint introduces Brando to the local priest (Karl Malden). Malden tries to get Brando to testify against Cobb and his men. Even though it would make him a rat.

Brando gives the best performance of his career in this wonderful film. And Karl Malden and Eva Marie Saint add to the wonderful excitement that this film gives.

Rod Steiger is in it as Brando's brother. He was a perfect choice. He shines in the "Contender" scene as he points a gun at Brando to stop him from confessing.

The film won eight oscars including Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Story and Screenplay, Art-Direction, Cinematography, and Editing. It was up for three Supporting Actor performances (Malden, Steiger, and Cobb) and Score.

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An electrifying classic, still a hard-hitter after so many years.

9/10
Author: Tasnim Karim from Sweden
21 March 2015

Marlon Brando gives out one of the best movie performances I haven't seen in a long time in movies, in this one.

The plot is amazing, its about a man. His name is Terry Malloy, an ex-boxer who works at the dock, but he is somewhat suppressed by the mafia that is running the docks.

I won't spoil or say too much about the plot (you just have to watch the movie itself) but the character chemistry is absolutely magnificent, the story is dark, but not too dark nor is it too gritty. It's pretty much in between, it definitely is a strong drama. In the end, the story is just about this one man out of a thousand who has to fight the guilt of what he is doing, but he get's his last chance in life to redeem himself. But will he do it? Or will he continue just being the bum he is?

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Effortless...

8/10
Author: josephmoriarty-795-991686
19 March 2015

Every generation produces a performance of such effortless standard and this for me is one of those. Brando's portrayal of Terry just shines with class. His relaxed style stands in contrast to the other characters in the movies but that's not to take away from the other actors who provide a backdrop to this no nonsense drama.

I found myself seeing desperately stark parallels to the world around us. With governments taking the mantel of organised crime and Terry representing every normal person trying to find some way to understand the limitations of the world they inhabit....

I know many will rave about this movie but I can only say this.... If you only had one movie to see before you die you could do a lot worse than this.....

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A deserved masterpiece

8/10
Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
9 March 2015

It's nice to find a well-regarded, 'classic' movie which is every bit as good as its reputation would have you believe. ON THE WATERFRONT is such a movie, a well-shot, compelling and perfectly written story about real people struggling to cope with the varying demands in their lives and their abilities to do the right thing.

The film features a tour-de-force bit of acting from Marlon Brando as the young and idealistic dockside worker who finds himself caught up in a strong-arm criminal racket led by the completely dastardly Lee J. Cobb. ON THE WATERFRONT is a working classic epic that brings to life a story of human struggle and endeavour, and it's the kind of film that stays with you afterwards.

The story is a slow burner, giving you a chance to get to know the characters before drawing them together in a spiral of increasing violence, and I found that it gets better and better as it goes on, building to a climax that's absolutely buzzing with power. Top stuff indeed and a feather in the cap of all those involved.

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No Film Has Influenced Me More Than This Kazan Masterpiece

10/10
Author: Andrew Fraser from Canada
8 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film follows the story of Terry Malloy, played by the excellent Marlon Brando in his prime. Terry is an ex-prizewinning boxer who now works as a longshoreman for the mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly. Terry's brother Charlie is Friendly's right hand man and because of this, Terry happens to accidentally get involved in the murder of his friend Joey Doyle. Terry begins to become conflicted about testifying against Friendly once he is given the chance and overall questioning the entire nature of the union, all while falling in love with Doyle's younger sister Edie, played by Eva Marie Saint.

The great Elia Kazan directs the film beautifully. Kazan is very well known for his films that discuss many social and political issues; he did so with Gentleman's Agreement in 1947, and later did so to a lesser extent with films such as A Streetcar Named Desire and East of Eden. However in many ways, On the Waterfront shows itself to discuss an issue that appears much more personal to Kazan than any other film he has ever done. The film, in a broad sense, discusses various themes of social corruption among a community. While this is not a literal issue that Kazan had went through, it is very representative of an issue Kazan had went through with the House Committee of Un-American Activities in 1952. Kazan was a former communist and once he left the communist party, he began to feel shame and also a bit cheated after he realized the nature of the party. Afterwards he was a pretty strict anti-communist, and when the committee asked him to identify fellow former communists, he did so. Kazan was highly criticized for this and it caused him to lose many friends in the film industry. The reason he was so hated by some for this was because this was the time of the Cold War and the United States was incredibly anti-communist and they were starting to blacklist certain people who identified with the Communist party, this included filmmakers. So not only did Kazan cause many of these people to be discriminated against because of their political beliefs, but many careers were also ruined because of this. On the Waterfront is widely regarded as being Kazan's response to this criticism and his feelings towards the Communist party, and this is what causes the film to be one of Kazan's most personal films.

Given knowledge of the back-story, some scenes in the film feel like Kazan is directly talking to the audience and confessing his opinions on what he did. Towards the end of the film and after Terry has testified against Johnny Friendly in court, nobody on the waterfront besides Edie and Father Barry will talk to him as they all view him as a traitor. Later as he tries to go back to the docks to work, he is denied it. He then goes over to Friendly's dock and yells for him to come outside. When Friendly comes outside, the two begin to yell at each other in argument and Terry says "You think you're God almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin' mug! And I'm glad what I done to you! Ya hear that? I'm glad what I done". It is in these words that the viewer begins to get the feeling that Kazan is talking directly to the people who criticized him for his decision. Kazan directs the film with an incredible amount of passion for the subject matter, and this is very evident when you watch the piece itself.

One of the strongest points of this film is one that is incredibly strong in all of Kazan's films, the performances by the actors. While it can be attached to being because of Kazan, the reason the performances in his films are so strong is because he actually does not give them an immense amount of directions and rather gives them freedom to do what they want. This is clear in many ways, from the way he casts his actor by not having a screen test but rather going out to dinner with them, getting to know them personally, and, what appears most in his films, the camera angles. Many directors will have a lot of complex camera angles during even the simplest dialogue scene, but Kazan does not do this, as doing too many angles leads to cutting too much and causing the actors to constantly break character. What Kazan does, and one scene in particular that stands out, is he simply places the camera in a certain spot and leaves it, giving the actors more freedom to control the scene. The one scene in the film that most stands out because of this is the scene where Terry and Edie are walking in the park after leaving the church. The camera is placed diagonally from them and simply pulls back as they walk. The scene goes on for many minutes and the camera does not break this entire time. Kazan does not control his actors or make them work by his standards, but he simply gives them the scene.

The scenes between Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint are some of the most beautiful scenes between two characters in any film. The two appear to have very open and honest chemistry with each other. The way the two of them look at each other, talk to each other, and the mannerisms they have when talking, shows a sense of shyness towards the other in both of them that best communicates their feelings toward one another in a non verbal sense. The fact that Brando and Saint were in no way romantically involved during the making of this film just further demonstrates their incredible talents. These scenes are what show the true nature of their characters, and is an example of truly beautiful acting.

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A Cinematic Classic!

10/10
Author: g-bodyl from United States
24 February 2015

I have decided to check out movies from the days of early, black-and- white cinema more consistently and one of the first picks I chose was this film, 1954's On the Waterfront. Needless to say, it certainly lives up to its reputation as a timeless classic and one with an obvious political agenda, back in the HUAC days. But this is a simple story about revenge and corruption within the unions. It's a very transformative film and it has Marlon Brando at his very best as the man who is afraid to stick up for himself, at least at first.

Elia Kazan, whose name might strike a chord with those familiar with history, directed a film about a poor dockworker named Terry who lives his days by caring for his pigeons and working for a corrupt union boss named Johnny Friendly. After he witnessed the murder of a man, he becomes close with the dead man's sister, Edie whom introduces him to Father Barry who tries to convince Terry to snitch on Johnny Friendly.

This film has a great cast and they all deliver excellent performances. Marlon Brando is one of the greatest actors of all time and he has proved that here as Terry, the man with a big heart but a semi-cowardly one. Eva Marie Saint in her film debut has several powerful scenes including a big one with her and Brando trying to speak over the loudness of a ship. Karl Malden as Father Barry is undoubtedly great as the man fighting for a righteous cause and Lee J. Cobb is sinister, but excellent in his role as the crime boss ruling the waterfront streets.

Overall, On the Waterfront could perhaps be one of the greatest films ever made. There is not one issue to make about the film, which is rare in this cinematic world. Film professors should use this film as an example for showcase acting and even technical things such as cinematography. But this is a gripping crime film featuring Marlon Brando at his very best and one of the greatest films of all time. It's funny since this film is based off muckraking articles about Hoboken crime. But nonetheless, an incredible movie.

My Grade: A+

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Sublime classic with great acting from everybody involved

8/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
24 February 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"On the Waterfront" was the big winner at the 1955 Academy Awards with no less than eight trophies. The film got Best Picture honors and director Elia Kazan won his second Oscar. Brando got his first nomination in another Kazan film 3 years earlier and this time won. That film was "A Streetcar Named Desire" and brought Karl Malden the win. Here he got another nomination. Lee J. Cobb shines as the main villain and manages his first Academy award nomination just like Rod Steiger, who has only a very small part and was a complete newcomer to movies at this point. The latter could also be said about Eva Marie Saint with the difference that she did win the prestigious Supporting Actress award for her breakthrough movie. Saint is stunning and gives a truly mesmerizing performance as does Brando. This is maybe my favorite turn from him. Both were in their late 20s in this film and Brando was actually older than Steiger, who played his older brother.

Really everybody nails their part here and I am always surprised what a likable presence Karl Malden has. Guess I need to watch "Streets of San Francisco" at some point. The film is packed with excellent metaphors about all kinds of stuff, including pigeons for example. It deals with (false) loyalty, love, parental disapproval of boyfriends, missed chances and careers and finally having the balls to do the right thing. I am actually glad, the film has a (sort-of) happy ending. Occasionally I felt it could end badly for Brando's character. It's really difficult to find something negative about this film, but maybe if you don't know a lot about unions and the mob in America at this point of time, you may have a hard time to understand crucial moments of the movie, including the ending. That's just a minor criticism though. It's an excellent film and I highly recommend it.

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One man against all...

8/10
Author: Thanos Alfie from Greece
5 February 2015

"On the Waterfront" is a crime movie in which we watch an ex-prize fighter who know is working in the dock and he does some willings for the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Although this changes after the death of one friend of his and when he meets the sister of his friend who wants to find the killer of his brother.

I truly liked this movie because of the plot which I found simply clever and brilliant. I also liked the direction which made by Elia Kazan which was outstanding (won the Oscar of Best Director). About the interpretations, I have to mention the great interpretation of Marlon Brando who played as Terry Malloy (won the Oscar of Best Actor in a Leading Role), the interpretation of Karl Malden who played as Father Barry and the interpretation of Eva Marie Saint who played as Edie Doyle (won the Oscar of Best Actress in a Supporting Role). In addition to this I believe that this movie shows us the truth behind many things and of course behind the profit. Also I think that this movie wants us to observe how some situations change in life and after that what we have to think and do in order to survive in this difficult world.

Finally I believe that "On the Waterfront" is a great movie and everybody has to watch it because it shows some truths about the old times in America and especially about its docks. I strongly recommend it.

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