Next to the corrupt union that Lee J. Cobb ran in On The Waterfront, Jack Warden is really small time corruption. But he's real enough as the gang boss on one of the docks who intimidates the other workers by being handy with his fists and the bailing hook and he gets the rest to kickback part of their hard earned money. And it's all hard earned money in that job.
One guy Warden can't intimidate is Sidney Poitier another gang boss and when he tries to intimidate newcomer John Cassavetes, Poitier takes him under his wing. The two develop quite the friendship and Poitier and his wife Ruby Dee even fix Cassavetes up with Kathleen Maguire.
Warden is truly one loathsome creature and it's sad how by sheer force of personality and physical prowess he cows almost everyone else into submission. In that sense he's tougher than Lee J. Cobb who did have to rely on an impression collection of goons to enforce his will in On The Waterfront.
Edge Of The City marked the big screen directorial debut of Martin Ritt who did a great job with a good cast of New York based players and spot on location cinematography. The film's low budget does show, but you're so impressed with the ensemble cast you don't really care.
Cassavetes as the loner with a past and the hip and tough Poitier are both fine, but my personal favorite in this film is Ruby Dee. She should have gotten some award for her performance, her final scene with Cassavetes is outstanding.
Catch this one if ever possible. I wish it were out on DVD or VHS.