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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE THIS FILM
It is unfortunate that it took Brando's death for me to realize the acting genuis he was. In this movie he brought forth such a vulnerability that you wanted to root for him. His acting is brilliant, I can understand why he won an Oscar for this performance. I now know what true acting genius is, it was Brando. Highly recommend this movie.
Published on July 14 2004

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars VERY DISAPPOINTING TRANSFER OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
Columbia continues its downward spiral where its classic DVD output is concerned. "On The Waterfront" is not only a great Academy Award winning film, it is an American icon. The plot is concerned with a union stooge, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) who eventually realizes that the intimidation racket of his boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) is an evil and...
Published on March 10 2003 by Nix Pix


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5.0 out of 5 stars You ratted on us Elia ! ... er, Terry., May 12 2001
By 
Frank Gibbons (Seekonk, MA United States) - See all my reviews
In the early Fifties, Elia Kazan was a friendly witness before HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) which was investigating the activity of communists in the motion picture industry. Kazan named names. To this day, people have not forgiven him --- hence the protests in 1999 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences elected to give him a Lifetime Achievement Award. People were still accusing him, literally, of being a 'rat'. In the Fifties he took a lot of heat as well and 'On the Waterfront' was his apologia. What does Terry Malloy do -- stay loyal to Johnny Friendly who had the saintly Joey Doyle murdered? Or does he follow his conscience and tell the Crime Commission of what he knows about Friendly and his mob? Does he remain 'deaf and dumb' or does he 'rat'? Even when Terry turns government witness against the bad guys, he is spurned by the stevedores for being a 'rat'. Marlon Brando gives the best performance of his storied career as Terry Malloy, the washed up boxer who could have been 'another Billy Conn'. Lee J. Cobb also tuns in his best film performance as the (in Bosley Crowther's phrase) 'brassy' Johnny Friendly. The music score by Leonard Bernstein is absolutely beautiful. I've seen the film dozens of times; individual scenes are still dazzling to watch. A superior film in every way!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It was you Charlie....it was you., March 25 2001
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If you want to know why Marlon Brando inspired and influenced an entire generation of actors, see On the Waterfront. His Terry Malloy is real down to his fingernails. Brando in his prime took and held the screen like no one else, absolutely magnetic, whether as a seeming uncaring pug with unawakened nobility in his heart (Terry) or a Mexican revolutionary (see Viva Zapata) or a racist jet ace (Sayonara) or whatever.
Matching Brando is a perfect cast. Karl Malden, Eve Marie Saint, Rod Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, there isn't a missed note or lesser performance from any of them, not to mention the thugs and real-life dockworkers surrounding them. Elia Kazan was an actor's director, and his skill at eliciting superior performance is nowhere more evident than here. He also knew how to make a movie, and his work with the camera and pacing is first rate. The B&W photography is gritty, beautiful and serves to locate the film in time and place while eliminating distraction from the performances.
You must know the story by now, culled from the real dockside union problems of the day, Budd Schulberg & Kazan fashioned a story that is about courage, loyalty (misplaced and otherwise), responsibilty and the willingness to stand up for something, stand alone if need be, and in that stance to risk the mistrust and misunderstanding and ostracism of your friends, your society, and the loss of your place in the world and even your life. They created a powerful melodrama of greed & corruption, of the struggle with compromise and conscience, of loss and redemption.
Frankly, this is just great movie making. It isn't done any better than this, and if for some reason you have never seen this film, treat yourself to excellence.
This is one of the best, don't miss it, and don't miss one of our greatest actors in his prime.
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4.0 out of 5 stars OWN THE WATERFRONT, March 24 2001
For some reason, I always get Charles Bronson and Marlon Brando mixed up. So for the first half hour of this movie I was looking for Charles Bronson and was getting frustrated that I couldn't find him. Finally I figured it out. I flick off one star because I felt that the beginning was a little bit slow, but the movie picks up considerably after that. All the actors (and actress) in this movie did very good jobs at their roles. The director did a good job of making the waterfront seem like a harsh place to live. Frank Sinatra was supposed to play Marlon Brando's part at first, but for some reason they got stuck with the latter. The ending makes up for any slow parts in this movie. If you're a black and white film addict, you should considering owning a copy of On the Waterfront.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Contender, Nov. 21 2000
I have heard people say that they do not understand why this film was seventh on the A.F.I 100 Greatest American Film Movies list so perhaps I can tell you what I think. When this movie came out the Committee for Un-American Activities had just completed their search of Hollywood for communists. In the 50's this was a big deal and people in the business were blacklisted form working in Holywood as a result. The director of this film, Elia Kazan, and it's producer, Lee Strasburg, both reportly gave names to the committee. This upset many people. After Kazan made On the Waterfront Terry Malloy's struggle became a metaphor for this time in Hollywood. It was a very bold statement at the time.
That being said, this is also a fantastic movie even if taken out of that context. Marlon Brando plays Terry Malloy, a longshoreman, who does a favor for teamster boss Johnny Friendly which leads to a neighborhood friend, Joey Doyle, getting murdered. Joey was going to testify against the union that controls the docks. Terry will soon face a similar dilema when he is approached about testifying. Terry has become interested in Joey's sister(Eva Marie Saint), but his brother(Rod Steiger) works closely for the Union leader. Eventually his struggle will come to a head.
This movie is great I don't really want to reveal too much about the plot. The story is timeless and very compelling. The performance from Brando is one of the greatest of all time(he won best actor). This film has stood the test of time and should be seen by any fan of cinema because it is quite an achievement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films of all time, Nov. 20 2000
Often mentioned among the greatest films of all time, this gritty story of corruption in the longshoremen's union and one man's courage to resist the mob bosses, hits with the force of an emotional sledgehammer. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 8 including best picture, best actor for Marlon Brando, best director for Elian Kazan and best supporting actress for Eva Marie Saint in her feature film debut. The acting talent was so deep that four cast members (Saint, Malden, Cobb, Steiger) were nominated in the best supporting actor category. The film was also rated number 8 on AFI's top 100 list of the twentieth century.
The story focuses on Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando), a small-time former boxer whose brother was highly placed in the corrupt longshoremen's union. Terry lures out Joey Doyle, an informant and friend of his, so the mobsters can deal with him. Terry thinks they are going to rough him up to keep him quiet, but instead, they throw him off a roof to his death. The guilt begins to gnaw at Terry, compounded by the fact that he is falling in love with Joey's sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint). He is further urged to inform on the mob by Father Barry (Karl Malden) setting up a dramatic confrontation with the union.
The setting was highly realistic, filmed on the docks of Hoboken, NJ with the New York City skyline as its backdrop. Most of the extras were actual longshoremen who worked on those same docks. The use of black and white film rather than color only served to enhance the dramatic effects.
This film was a vehement and personal political statement by Elian Kazan. Kazan had just finished testifying before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, naming former associates who were affiliated with the Communist party. As a result, he was ostracized by most of the filmmaking community. "On The Waterfront" became his personal mission to justify his testimony. He looked at Terry as his own alter ego. In one scene, a union boss shouts, ``You ratted on us, Terry,'' and Brando retorts: ``I'm standing over here now. I was rattin' on myself all those years. I didn't even know it.'' This was Kazan's defiant statement in response to the vituperation of his critics.
For this reason the film was reviled by the Hollywood elite and Kazan vilified as turncoat. In his 1988 autobiography, he wrote about how he felt after the film won 8 Oscars: "I was tasting vengeance that night and enjoying it. `On the Waterfront' is my own story; every day I worked on that film, I was telling the world where I stood and my critics to go and **** themselves.''
The political agenda aside, this was brilliant filmmaking. The story had gut wrenching power, a classic struggle between good and evil with one man defying insurmountable odds and certain death to stand by his beliefs. It contains one of the most memorable and most quoted scenes in film. Brando gives his now famous "I coulda been a contenda" speech in chastising his brother for selling him out and making him take a dive so the mob could win the bets they laid on his opponent. The ending of the film is one of the most triumphant in filmmaking history.
The acting was superlative across the board. Brando's performance is without question one of the most unforgettable ever. His character was a simple man with extraordinary courage making him an amazingly attractive hero. The anguished torment he portrayed was deeply affecting. Karl Malden was electrifying as the defiant priest who stood with the union members to encourage them to oppose corruption. Lee J. Cobb was also fabulous as Johnny Friendly, the crooked and maniacal union boss who would stop at nothing to maintain power. Rod Steiger gave a fantastic performance as Terry's older and "smarter" brother who was nothing more than Johnny Friendly's stooge. Eva Marie Saint was compelling as the courageous sister of the slain longshoreman. Also playing minor roles were a very young Fred Gwynn and Martin Balsam.
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Of course, I rate it a 10/10. It is required viewing for any classic film buff. Its power cannot be adequately described, it must be experienced.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Boys, this is my church..., July 17 2000
By 
D. Collier "Shelf-Help" (Brownwood, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
...and if you don't think Christ is down here on the waterfront, you've got another guess coming!" This is my #1 favorite movie of all time, primarily because of that scene. In this day and age, a strong Christian leader portrayed on film in a positive light is extremely rare. But Karl Malden soared in his performance (along with Brando, Saint, Steiger, & Cobb). He brought the same dignity and strength to the role as he did 17 years later as Gen. Bradley in Patton! The directing, music, and script were also fantastic. Now wonder the AFI ranked this one in the top 10!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film!, June 14 2000
By 
J. Hoerth "optiondelta" (United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the first film other than "The Godfather" that I watched because of Marlon Brando. What a great and sharp film. I'm glad for some reason that it was filmed in black/white. It just has that long lasting effect! The acting, directing, music and script are just great. Brando who played Terry Malloy is one the characters that film will never forget. After going against the mob that has sold out his boss and other owners on the docks, Brando (Malloy) goes against them because it's time for change! Karl Malden is bent on getting the mob out of the docks and helping Molloy before it's too late. Gripping speach in car "I coulda been a contenda" still gets me every time I see it and think about it! Grade:A-
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic movie!, June 9 2000
By A Customer
I truly enjoyed watching this movie. Before I had watched it, my Dad told me that my grandfather had been working on the docks and was one of the extras in the crowd scenes. That got me interested, and after I had watched it, I knew I loved the movie, and liked Brando even more. Truly a great film, watch it, and also "A Streetcar Named Desire."
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5.0 out of 5 stars An American Classic, Dec 29 1999
In On the Waterfront, all the elements of great film making meet so ideally that the subtext of Kazan's self-justification becomes a non-issue. Those who dismiss the film because they villify its maker have a personal ax to grind and forget that great art is often achieved by very flawed artists. The plot turns Greek tragedy (and Shakespearean) on its ear. Brando's Terry Malloy is a self-proclaimed bum with no apparant redeeming virtues. But he rises to greatness when one virtue surfaces and exhalts him. It is not a sense of duty to break the corrupt union that saves him. It is love--for his brother and for the girl whose brother he has helped to murder, although unwittingly. The acting, from Brando all the way to the slightly smarmy government agents and the thugs and hangers-on who do Johnny Friendly's dirty work, is supurb. Kazan has said that Brando's performance is the greatest in American film history, and I agree. He is so inventive and so unlike anything that had ever been seen at that time. Though his character is certainly not subtle, Brando's performance is immensely subtle. I'll mention one emotion that is central to the theme of the story: indecision. In the scene in the bar (with Eva Marie Saint), he suffers a moral agony unfamiliar to him as his attraction to her, his horror at her brother's death, and his misplaced sense of "don't squeal" values hold him in conflict. This indecision comes to its conclusion, again in a bar, when he struggles with the same sense of allegiance and his hatred for Johnny Friendly. Kazan achieves one his most brilliant insights when Brando hurls the pistol at the mirror which holds his own reflection: his decision is clear. (Interestingly, Kazan used a smashed mirror to convey an entirely different idea in "Streetcar"). The music, which is indeed by Leornard Bernstein, not Elmer, is as elemental, brutal, and blood-stirring as is Kazan's direction and Brando's acting. I've seen Citizen Kane and the other films that some rate above this one, and I don't get it. On the Waterfront is America's great movie, the product of two geniuses at their best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brando at His Best, Aug. 2 1999
By A Customer
Personally, this Marlon Brando's greatest role and movie of all time(Even better than The Godfather or A Streetcar Named Desire). This movie is a little more realistic than the Godfather.Eva Marie Saint is excellent in role as Edie Doyle. Also, the supporting cast is more than excellent and almost amazing. The storyline is incredible along with setting . This movie so great I can't say enough good things about, but the ending was okay. Still, This one of the greatest movie ever made.
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On the Waterfront (Bilingual) (Special Edition)
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