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ON THE WATERFRONT

Director: ELIA KAZAN

U.S.A.| 1954. BLACK AND WHITE. 108 MIN.


‘IF THERE IS A BETTER PERFORMANCE BY A MAN IN THE HISTORY OF FILM IN AMERICA, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS.’—ELIA KAZAN

On the Waterfront won Oscars for both Brando and his director and established a prototype Kazan hero: a rebel, anguished and ambivalent about his personal situation and social responsibilities, but with a tremendous drive to solve his problems as an individual. A young ex-boxer, Terry Malloy (Brando) is now a New York longshoreman given easy jobs because his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) is the right-hand man of corrupt union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). When Terry realises he was inadvertently involved in Friendly’s murder of a fellow dock worker, he reassesses his life and decides to take a stand. Kazan and scriptwriter Budd Schulberg turned the film into a defence of their roles as informers in the anti-communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. Despite the film’s outstanding qualities, many film industry people never forgave what they considered a terrible betrayal.

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