4 May 2008 | Nazi_Fighter_David
Kazan's film constitutes an extraordinary tour de force of fluid direction and nervous, edgy acting
"On the Waterfront" is basically the story of one man, Terry Malloy, a young dock worker with a little, and unsuccessful, experience as a boxer but not much intelligence or purpose
He wastes his time around the docks, vaguely discontented about his life and revealing a tender trace in his otherwise tough manner as he tends his pigeons caged on the roof of his modest building
His brother Charley (Rod Steiger), a suave opportunistic lawyer, works for the local dockers' union, headed by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), the arrogant mob boss
Friendly takes affectionate interest in Terry and tries to make things easy for him
He also takes advantage of Terry by involving him in the killing of an uncooperative docker
Unaware of their murderous intentions, Terry sets the trap for the man who is thrown from a roof top because he allowed himself to be interviewed by a crime investigating commission
Terry's alienation from the crooked union leaders starts when he meets the dead man's sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint), and realizes the grief he has brought into her life
She asks his help in bringing the racketeers to justice, as does Father Barry (Karl Malden), a priest of complete goodness and rightness
Brando's moral dilemma was superbly drawn in the film
He's an ordinary man finding the courage to stand up and be counted
As portrayed by Brando he is touchingly believable
The rest of the cast is excellent:
Cobb is extremely good as the brute fury boss who intimidates the workers into silence, stopping at nothing to maintain his position of power on the docks...
Rod Steiger gives his finest performance as the clever and suave opportunistic lawyer who works for the local docker's union...
Eva Marie Saint manages to make the blood go through Brando's valves reviving and creating a heart that never existed before...
Karl Malden is hard and clear as the activist Catholic priest who continue encouraging other longshoremen to testify, inciting Brando to fight for his rightsregardless of the costrather than be a pawn in a ruthless system of bribes and killings...
"On the Waterfront" is one of the great American films, not only because it bravely spreads a strong light on the violation of justice, but because it is a powerful piece of cinema, which push forward a classic study of man's responsibility to his fellow man...
The film won eight Academy Awards...