On the Waterfront 3.0 stars

On the Waterfront movie poster
  • Rated NR

Elia Kazan's multi-Oscar-winner about racketeers on the New York docks and the broken-down, battle-scarred boxer who blows the whistle. (The revisionist view, in light of Kazan's naming of names to HUAC, is to see it as a rationale for ratting.) Marlon Brando, in a floridly indelible performance, is the sensitive palooka who raises pigeons, woos a virtuous Catholic girl (Eva Marie Saint in her screen debut), and has a big scene with his big brother (Rod Steiger) in the backseat of a taxi cab: "I coulda been a contender." A lot of it is over the top -- Leonard Bernstein's lurid music, Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, the operatic finale -- but Boris Kaufman's gritty photography keeps it grounded. 1954.

Duncan Shepherd

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