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Drifter Axel North has just arrived in New York City, having traveled from city to city throughout the country. Given the name Charlie Malick as a contact by an acquaintance named Ed Faber, Axel is able to get a job working as a stevedore in Charlie's gang on the dockyards. Little did Axel know that Charlie is corrupt, requiring payola for that job, and is a racist. It is solely because of the color of his skin that Charlie hates his fellow gang boss, Tommy Tyler, a black man. It is also because he can see that Axel is a little wet behind the ears that Tommy tries to befriend him to get him out from under Charlie's thumb. Due solely to the reason that he is a drifter, Axel is slow to warm and open up to Tommy, eventually providing some basic information: that he is originally from Gary, Indiana, that his real surname is Nordmann, and that the only person he has ever really loved in his life was his older brother Andy, whose death exacerbated the already strained relationship he has ...Written by
The neighborhood playground scenes were shot on St Nicholas Terrace at w129st in Harlem See more »
When Alex is fighting Charlie and they end up on the tracks near the end of the rail car Alex picks up a hunk of pipe that bends while he is swinging it. Charlie then hits him a couple of times in the gut. When Alex falls on the ground, it is obvious he has padding under his jacket to absorb the blows which disappears in the next shot. When Alex chokes Charlie unconscious and then turns him around to drag him to the police, the bigger Charlie is replaced by a dummy so that Alex can appear to be dragging him. See more »
This is an excellent movie that tackles the issue of racism in a delicate and balanced way. Great performances all round but absolutely outstanding acting by Sidney Poitier.
He makes this movie breathe and alive. His portrayal of a guy who struggles against discrimination and violence is simply mind blowing. His acting is forceful and delicate and subtle at the same time. Truly worthy of an Oscar, Poitier had to wait (because of his skin colour) for many more years before the sheer brilliance of his acting was recognised by the Academy.
Cassavetes turns in a great performance too, withdrawn, troubled and realistic as it has become his hallmark. He and Poitier contrast inimitably the forces of cowardice, courage and human transformation through friendship.
The movie is enjoyable and at the same time deeply haunting in its portrayal of racism in the US. The irony is that it somehow mirrors the realities under which Poitier had to work.
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