Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Marlon Marathon - On The Waterfront

Last night Beeps and I sat down to watch "On the Waterfront", the next movie in our Marlon Marathon. I know I was supposed to post "Streetcar" but we own that one and we really wanted to get "Waterfront" back to NetFlix so we could get "300". Anyway, "Streetcar" will be next I promise.

"On The Waterfront" was directed in 1954 by Elia Kazan and won 8 Academy Awards including Best Actor for Marlon, Best Actress for Eva Marie Saint, Best Director, and Best Picture.
It stars Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, Karl Malden as Father Barry and Lee Cobb as Johnny Friendly. It's the story of a group of New York longshoremen who are under the power of a corrupt union boss/ mobster (Friendly).

Marlon plays a retired boxer who now works at the docks. His brother Charlie is Johnny Friendly's right-hand man. It starts with Terry arranging a meeting between the mobsters and Joey Doyle. Joey Doyle is accused of singing to the police and is promptly launched from a rooftop to his death. Terry feels bad because he thought they'd just "rough him up a bit".

Joey's sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint) and her priest friend Father Barry, get mad and decide to find out who killed Joey and expose the corruption on the waterfront. They decide to hold a meeting in the basement of the church. A few of the workers show up including Terry who is asked to spy on the meeting for Johnny.

Johnny Friendly gets mad and another dock worker is killed for speaking out.

Terry and Edie fall in love. Terry then receives a subpoena to appear at Johnny Friendly's corruption trial. He now has a decision to make: stay loyal to his brother or sing like a canary and avenge the deaths of his coworkers. Edie is very persuasive and Terry decides to sing. Charlie, his brother, makes one last effort to convince Terry to change his mind and keep quiet. After that doesn't work Charlie turns up dead. Terry is now more enraged than ever and gives very damming testimony against Johnny Friendly at his trial.

Shortly after, while waiting for his sentence, Johnny Friendly and Terry have a big fight on the docks. Terry gets the crap beat out of him by Johnny's gang and is left for dead. This is witnessed by the entire longshoreman union and they rally behind Terry essentially destroying Johnny's power over them. Terry makes a triumphant walk from the dock to the ship, bloodied and beaten, and unaided. The end.

This was a great film. Brandon was perfect. He had many lines and he delivered each of them with sadness and sincerity. The writing was great too. Lots of fun slang and surprise punchlines:

Edie: Shouldn't everybody care about everybody else?
Terry: Boy, what a fruitcake you are!


Edie: Which side are you with?
Terry: Me? I'm with me, Terry.

The setting was also beautiful with dingy city rooftops, rain soaked street scenes, dilapidated docks, and hazy New York skylines. Plus there was a great avian metaphor throughout the film: pigeons, hawks, and canaries.

I loved it. My favorite so far. Oh yeah, and Marlon was H-O-T! Even with swollen fighter eyes.

We give it 5 marbles out of 5.

Next up: Streetcar, I promise.