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The Waterfront - Movie Review Example

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On the Waterfront is a 1954 film directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg and stars Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Lee J. Cobb. It is based on a series of articles written by Malcolm Johnson for New York Sun.
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The Waterfront
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"The Waterfront"

Download file to see previous pages The movie, a controversial and powerful part drama part gangster film about mob violence, trade unions and the corruption among longshoreman, is set on New York’s waterfront docks and it is about the struggle of workers for work and dignity..Malcolm Johnson, born on 24 September, 1904 and graduated from Mercer University in 1926, was a noted investigative journalist. He wrote a series of 24 parts called `Crimes on the Waterfront’ about the dock strikes, published in New York Sun. The series exposed corrupt practices, bribery, extortion, theft, murder and the mob’s influence on New York’s waterfront. He eventually won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for the series in 1949. `The Sun’ articles formed the basis for the movie “On the Waterfront”. But before Budd Schulberg started working on the screenplay for the movie, Arthur Miller wrote a play “The Bottom of the River’ about the efforts of Peter Panto who was murdered by the mob while struggling to organize the dock workers of Brooklyn Red Hook district in the 1930s. In 1950, Miller rewrote the play as the screenplay “The Hook” for Elia Kazan. Kazan wanted to make the movie but was rejected by the studios. Reason was the pressure imposed by HUAC on the Columbia Pictures studio chief Harry Cohn. Miller was told to change the villains to evil communists from corrupt union officials and gangsters. Arthur Miller refused and was replaced by Budd Schulberg, who wrote `On the Waterfront’ as a result.On

the Waterfront' as a result. (Tom Dirks)

The story is like this. Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) is the union boss, who rules

the waterfront. He is responsible for a number of murders but police couldn't take any

action against him as the witnesses never testify against him i.e. they play deaf and dumb

("plead D &D"). Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a dockworker and a former boxer who

does small jobs due to his brother Charley (Rod Steiger) influence.

Karl Malden plays the role of Father Barry who encourages Terry, stuck in a

moral struggle between right and wrong. Eva Marie Saint plays the role Edie Doyle,

sister of the dockworker who gets murdered because he was going to testify against

Johnny Friendly. Terry feels somewhat responsible for the death because he could have

Intervened. Because of a love towards Edie and encouragement from Father Berry, Terry

agrees to testify against Johnny Friendly and his own brother Charley in a federal Crime

Commission investigation. (Tom Dirks)

On the Waterfront' is said to be a sort of autobiographical film by Elia Kazan. It

was his reaction to the criticism he faced for his testimony before the House Un-

American Committee, in which he "named names" in 1952. Kazan, during his theatre

days in1930s, had been a member of the Communist Party. The Theater also included

several professionals who were Communists. At first Kazan agreed to testify before

HUAC but refused to name other members, but because of increasing pressure from

Hollywood studio management, he provided the names of former Party members. Later,

Kazan explained that he resented the Party's to force their Agenda on artists and he felt

the testimony was in the best interest of the country. Though the testimony was due to the

threat of being blacklisted from the Hollywood studios, Kazan was hated by his former

friends. Terry's testimony against Johnny Friendly and his mob was perceived by some

as Kazan's reaction to his critics.

In 1951, before Kazan, Budd Schulberg also testified before HUAC. Budd

Schulberg born in March27, 1914 was the son of B.P. Schulberg, the head of Paramount

Pictures, and Adeline Jaffee-Schulberg. Budd Schulberg volunteered to testify when

screenwriter Richard Collins testified before ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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