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Friday, March 3, 2017

On The Waterfront (1954)

A has been boxer (Marlon Brando) works on the New York waterfront docks because his brother (Rod Steiger) is the right hand man of the mobster connected union boss (Lee J. Cobb). But when he's used to finger a friend (Ben Wagner) who is testifying before a crime commission, he slowly begins to get a conscience. Directed by Elia Kazan, this is one of the seminal films of the 1950s. Based on a story by Budd Schulberg (who also did the screenplay) which in turn is based on a series of newspaper articles by Malcolm Johnson. It's about as close to a flawless film as has been made. From Boris Kaufman's stark B&W lensing to Leonard Bernstein's stunning underscore, the film brings an intricate narrative to life with some of the best ensemble acting ever put on screen. Five of its actors got Oscar nominations. The scene in the cab between Steiger and Brando remains one of the most powerful justifications of method acting (not that we needed any) ever done.  If this all sounds like hyperbole, I can't help it. I love this movie! One of the great American films with one of the best performances by an actor (Brando) to reach the screen. With Eva Marie Saint (in an Oscar winning performance), Karl Malden, Leif Erickson, James Westerfield, Fred Gwynne, Pat Hingle, Nehemiah Persoff and Martin Balsam.  

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