On the Waterfront - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

On the Waterfront Reviews

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January 8, 2017
The fight for a unionized America ! Brandon is powerful as a union labor negotiator fighting against unfair working conditions, organized crime and a future worth living and fighting for
December 13, 2016
Forget Nyquil. Needed a nap and this movie did the trick.
November 12, 2016
When people discuss art being a reflection of reality, whether it be reflecting it's truth or the discussion of it, they are talking about On The Waterfront.

½ August 27, 2016
"I think somebody fell off the roof."
½ July 21, 2016
I enjoyed this mob versus common man movie. I wondered where that line "I could have been a contender" was from, now I know. Brando at his best.
July 20, 2016
Great movie, but if you watch the DVD and listen to the "commentary" supposedly about 'the' movie, you will be gravely disappointed as two men talk on and on and on solely about their opinion. The continually references to Brando's "sexiness", by these two old men, became so sickening that I will not be able to view the movie again without mentally hearing their ongoing non-stop rhetoric. I have been ruined. The majic I once had, has now vanished. This one will remain on the shelf. My advice: watch the movie, fall in love with its realness, but whatever you do, DO NOT listen to the "Special Feature" commentary...it'll ruin the beauty of the film.
July 19, 2016
John Friendly -- not too friendly.
July 16, 2016
On the Waterfront (1954) 108m. ???? D: Elia Kazan. Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, Leif Erickson, Eva Marie Saint. Staggering film of underpaid union workers and the one man who stands up to their "untouchable" employers--a bad idea. Brando as ex-prize fighter, Malden as priest, Cobb as corrupt union manager, Steiger as Brando's sinister brother, and Saint as girlfriend are all perfect. Eight Oscars: Picture, Direction, Brando, Saint, Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing. Leonard Bernstein's thundering score SHOULD have won.
June 26, 2016
Cinema, filmmaking... whatever you want to call it... it just doesn't get much better than this. A timeless film is a film with a simple story with big ideas. That's it... that's On the Waterfront.
May 31, 2016
Controversial, subversive and enthralling, Elia Kazan builds up a well-crafted crime drama - whose cult status is largely due to Marlon Brando's mesmerizing performance on the lead.
May 22, 2016
Set in an alternate world where the unions are rackets, the dead are not mourned and Marlon Brando inhabits the subjunctive.
½ May 21, 2016
Watched this on 20/5/16
Really different from an American film of the 50s, On the Waterfront has a plot that is worth remembering, something that is realistic because it deals with the life of the common folk of the time which might still resonate even today. Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Eva Maria Saint give commendable performances where I feel that Malden gave the best despite a short screen time. The direction, the music are all spot on and the carry the movie forward rather than make it feel artificial like in many noirs. However, I did not enjoy the ending that much, it could have been a bit more realistic than dramatic.
½ May 9, 2016
O que dizer deste filme? Uma brilhante actuação de Marlon Brando numa peça sobre lealdade e respeito. Simplesmente fantástico mesmo 60 anos depois
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2016
'On the Waterfront' is a tour de force that really has it all - a great script, outstanding acting, and great direction. It tells the story of a group of longshoremen who are being coerced into silence by their corrupt and mob-connected union bosses. These are tough guys who work backbreaking jobs and have a code of not ratting out others. It's this ethic combined with the threat of being denied work or killed that keeps them all in line. We're sucked in immediately when in the opening minutes of the film there is a brutal murder to silence one of them, in which Marlon Brando finds himself unwittingly an accomplice.

Brando is absolutely brilliant in this movie, and it boggles my mind that he considered his performance to be subpar after he saw it. He is a genius in the big moments and in the small ones he creates. Karl Malden is also outstanding as the priest who tries to rally the workers to stand up for themselves, and Lee J. Cobb and Rod Steiger turn in strong performances as the mob boss and one of his lieutenants (and Brando's brother), respectively. It's a shame that these three were all nominated for best supporting actor but split the vote so that none of them would win, though the film won 8 others, including Best Picture.

The scene in the taxicab with the brothers, where Steiger implores and even threatens Brando to remain silent, is one of the best in movie history - not just because of the fantastic script, but also because of Brando's acting. He recalls having to take a dive in a fight for a mob, and when his brother blames his manager for trying to bring him along too fast as a young boxer, running his career, he responds:

"It wasn't him Charlie, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden, you came down into my dressing room and said, 'kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson.' You remember that? This ain't your night! My night ... I could have taken Wilson apart. So what happens, he gets the title shot outdoors in a ballpark and what do I get, a one-way ticket to palookaville. You was my brother, Charlie, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me, just a little bit, so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money."

Charlie: "I had some bets down for you, you saw some money."

"You don't understand! I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody! Instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charlie."

That scene of being let down by a loved one is so poignant that on its own it makes the movie worth watching, but it's rock solid throughout, even if a little on the dramatic side at the ending. Kazan provided great direction with scenery that looked realistic because it was, having been shot in Hoboken with many of the extras real longshoremen, and on rooftops with aerials and dovecotes. I absolutely HATE the idea that Kazan made the film in part to justify his own testimony to congress during the McCarthy years, but it's a sad fact about the backstory of the film.

With that said, I have to put that aside and give it credit for being a great, great film. Aside from the taxicab scene, there are a couple of others that give me goosebumps every time I see them, one of which is Malden calling out the bosses in a speech despite being threatened and having garbage thrown at him ("Every time the mob puts pressure on a good man and stops him from doing his duty as a citizen - it's a crucifixion!"). This is a tough, gritty movie, about the little man overcoming intimidation to stand up for himself against evil. The theme is timeless, and the movie creates timeless, immortal moments.
Super Reviewer
½ May 8, 2016
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.
April 27, 2016
I could have been a contender.
Super Reviewer
½ April 27, 2016
4.5-5. Masterful and has a very real sense to it. Superb writing, direction, acting.
April 25, 2016
Phenomenal film, didn't really know to much about the movie but I was blown away after seeing it. Truly just an strong amazing film that everyone should see, luckily I got to see it in the theatre.
April 18, 2016
Brilliant, groundbreaking, poetic and more powerful than a left hook to the jaw.
½ March 9, 2016
With possibly the greatest acting performance in cinema history, Marlon Brando undoubtedly made this movie.
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