Film: On the Waterfront

Opened: July 28, 1954

Directed by: Elia Kazan

Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, John F. Hamilton, Ben Wagner & Eva Marie Saint

Featuring one of Marlon Brando’s most electrifying performances, On the Waterfront remains one of the greatest films of all-time.

Working for mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), dockworker Terry Malloy (Brando) unknowingly leads Joey Doyle (Ben Wagner) to his death. Feeling guilty about this, he follows the leads of Father Barry (Karl Malden) and Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint) to take Friendly down.

The film is full of excitement from the start. Leonard Bernstein’s score highlights the action, but it’s Budd Schulberg’s screenplay that makes the film so iconic. Brando gives a nuanced performance with the conflicted Terry and his best moment comes when he gives a monologue about what he could’ve been.

Dealing with the real-life corruption of the waterfront, there’s an honest intensity that resonates.

Final say: Sets the standard for mob corruption films. ★★★★★

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