REVIEWED
7/20/04

STORY



LOOK

On The Waterfront
Director: Elia Kazan
Year: 1954
TRT: 1:47


A classic drama, and it plays out very well. It doesn't matter that it's in Monochrome (aka B&W), it's a pretty involving tale of a boxer past his prime and trying to figure out what's the next step. As much as the recent fortune in employment seems like a good thing, the implications make even the slowly-turning cogs in Terry's head start to spin with doubt.

Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) ain't exactly the brightest bulb in the socket. He did some serious professional boxing in his day (he coulda been a contender), but his older brother Charley's the smart one, and eventually lands them both a pretty good gig working the waterfront. Problem is, the "organization" isn't quite on the level, and Terry is starting to have some doubts about what exactly he's doing for the business, especially when a local priest and a lurvely girl start making him think a bit more about it. While dim, he's not stupid enough to not comprehend the consequences of biting the hand that feeds him. Released the same year as The Wild One, though this performance would win Brando an Oscar (and won 7 of 'em overall).

It's very political in nature, with a love story wrapped in to give it broader "emotional" appeal (though in my opinion, while well done, is the weakest part of the film), and shot mostly on location to give it a very realistic feel, much to its compliment. Great performances by Karl Malden as the pussy priest who steps up to the plate, Rod Steiger as the older brother, Cobb as "Johnny Friendly," and Eva Saint Marie's screen debut as the slightly anemic Catholic Girl is occasionally over-dramatic, but does the job. Decent-enough score as well by Leonard Bernstein.

Great Scene: The cab ride that Terry and Charley take which shows the true emotional level this movie works on.

DVD Notes: Fuck watching this as some hacked, commercial-laden exploit on some cable channel on late-night. It's meant to be seen as it was intended, and Columbia/Tri-Star did a good job in presenting the fullscreen version with the respect that is deserves. Nice menus, subtitles, and a range of special features from the somewhat truncated "selected" filmographies of the majors to the Commentary with film critic Richard Schickel & Jeff Young (Elia Kazan biographer). While ultimately pretty informative on Kazan & Brando leading up to this film (and beyond), it's pretty dry and I didn't make it much past 40 minutes or so. Also included is a video presentation of various stills, with quotes from the film laid underneath. Also there's a 12 minute interview with Elia Kazan from relatively recently, and a great 25 minute featurette focusing on the "cab ride/contender" scene. Altogether a really great disc.