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With his electrifying performance in Elia Kazan's thought-provoking, expertly constructed melodrama, Marlon Brando redefined the possibilities of acting for film and helped permanently alter the cinematic landscape.
All Critics (64)
| Top Critics (13)
| Fresh (63)
| Rotten (1)
| DVD (5)
This brutal, violently realistic drama, set against the sordid background of the New York waterfront, packs a terrific wallop that results in topflight entertainment.
Kazan over-emphasized the last sequence in the film, but on the whole, his fine direction shows in the strength and power of the dramatic action on the screen.
On the Waterfront has a script that is a work of love and shows it.
Under Elia Kazan's direction, Marlon Brando puts on a spectacular show, giving a fascinating, multi-faceted performance as the uneducated dock walloper and former pug, who is basically a softie with a special affection for his rooftop covey of pigeons.
It's hard to deny that Marlon Brando's performance as a dock worker and ex-fighter who finally decides to rat on his gangster brother (Rod Steiger) is pretty terrific.
It's pretty electrifying.
[Marlon Brando's] colleagues act and they act well.
A parable of the conscience to rival any moral drama across the history of American cinema (only Michael Mann's The Insider offers a recent comparison, in my opinion).
Marlon Brando won his first Academy Award as Terry Malloy, the former prize fighter turned longshoreman on the mob-dominated docks of New York.
[Boris Kaufman's] neo-realistic style is a perfect match for Waterfront's gritty story... and the film was well served by the 36 days the cast and crew spent shooting in and around the Hoboken waterfront.
Overrated melodrama about the alleged wonders of informing.
On the surface it's an extremely well-crafted and entertaining drama, but peel away some layers and you'll discover an apologia for informing.
Kazan's self-defense for naming names to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1952 (and his apologia for denunciation) is a gritty combo of realistic crime drama, romance and character study with a stellar central performance by Marlon Brando.
All these years later Elia Kazan's film about mob corruption in the dock workers' unions is still poignant and thrilling. Marlon Brando plays ex-boxer and mob front man Terry Malloy. He falls for Edie Doyle (Saint), a dock worker's daughter, and an outspoken opponent of the mob's hold on the workers. The film is an indictment of mob ties, but also highlights the mob's ability to corrupt the innocent, and turn those who have little or no options. Terry has been taken in because his brother (Steiger) has no confidence in him, which turns him into a bum. He finally stands up for himself, and in the process finds the love of Edie Doyle, and fights for the many workers who are disadvantaged. This is a beautifully fraught film that yields some of the most emotionally deep performances of Saint or Brando's careers. This is a portrait of Old Hollywood, a film that pushes political boundaries, and a film that is just, simply amazing by any standard.
Marlon Brando steals the show with a pulse-pounding performance as Terry, a man who has never been trusted ever since his departure from world-class fighting. He is now living on the streets with no real home, falling for a woman and trying to earn respect from everyone else. As this woman's brother dies, she seeks Terry for help after realizing he has nothing left to lose. There are very tight moments of dialogue and the chemistry between each character interaction is phenomenal. This is one of the best crime films I have ever seen, because instead of focussing on the blood and guts of the real crime, it focusses on the mystery of it and the subtlety of the aftermath and recovery/revenge. "On the Waterfront" is brilliantly acted, stupendously directed, and filmed to perfection. I Love this film!
A couple heavy-handed moments in the ending are my only nit-picks with this absolute masterpiece.
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