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Tag Archives: Crime

On the Waterfront (1954)

I watched On the Waterfront as a cinematic duty, fully expecting it not to be my cup of tea, partly having assumed that Marlon Brando was not my cup of tea. But On the Waterfront…I should have known, because usually there is a reason a film is celebrated. It it gripping, exciting drama, the kind of drama you want to lean in towards. But it was the ending in particular that impressed me, possessing an unexpected power that lingers after the film ends.

One the Waterfront was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg, based on a real incident, about dockworkers who are led by union boss/crime boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). He makes sure they get work and he gets a little extra in union dues. Anyone who does not play along does not get work. And anyone who rats on him gets killed.

When Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) unwittingly aids Johnny Friendly in killing Terry’s friend Joey, he begins to feel unsettled by Johnny’s methods. Joey’s sister, Edie (Eve Marie Saint), wants answers and wants Terry to help her find who killed Joey. The priest, Father Barry (Karl Malden), also wants Terry to help, but he wants all the workers to stand up against Friendly. Father Barry needs someone willing to go to the Crime Commission and testify…hopefully without getting killed. But everyone is too paralyzed with fear, too beaten down by life, and too locked in a mindset where the authorities are the enemy. One does not want to be a “cheese-eater,” a phrase repeated often throughout the story.

It’s partly a story of conflicted loyalty. Terry feels loyalty to his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger), who practically raised him, and to Friendly, who used to take him to ballgames and treats Terry well for the sake of his brother. But Terry also has a conscience bothering him and there seems no way to reconcile the two.

Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint

(Plot Spoilers Ahead) There is a marvelous scene when a member of the crime commission climbs to the roof where Terry keeps his pigeons. The man doesn’t directly challenge Terry or try to convince him to testify about Joey’s death. He simply and subtly manipulates Terry into admitting that Charley and Friendly used him while he was a boxer (having him take a dive), thus planting the seed that he really owes them no loyalty.

But what really convinces Terry to testify is when Friendly kills Charley. Friendly has begun to eat his own, so to speak, and now Terry’s motivation is more like revenge than anything else. He couldn’t quite do it for Edie’s sake, but he will do it for his own, since there is no longer that conflict of loyalty.

What really struck me, however, is that the climax of the film is not when Terry testifies. It comes afterwards. He testifies and suddenly his friends refuse to speak to him. All his friends, who resent Friendly, still turn their back on him and back up Friendly. It’s an amazing moment. Even Terry’s young friend turns his back on him, murdering all his pigeons. It’s actually shocking. That this child would feel so betrayed by Terry that he would murder the birds he’d cared for with Terry.

And that is when the entire dynamic of the film shifted for me. I spent a great deal of the film hating Friendly and wanting to see him brought to justice. But by the end of the film you realize that Friendly is not the problem. The problem is with the dockworkers. Even if Friendly had not existed, there would have been someone else.

In fact, it’s not even clear why, at the end, the dockworkers finally stand up against Friendly. Are they shamed by Terry – someone who is generally dismissed as a “bum” – or is it the sight of Friendly losing control of his temper to such an extant and thus revealing his vulnerability. Or is it the sight of Friendly and Terry fighting. Since Terry was always thought to be in the crowd with Friendly (because of being Charley’s brother), perhaps it is the visuals of watching them go at it (perhaps like a peasant watching a king fight with an aristocrat), thus revealing the weakness of the entire system.

On the Waterfront also won me over to Marlon Brando. I’ve always thought of him as a hyper-macho actor, but you can see why Edie falls for him. He may be a “bum” and not very bright, but he has a boyish charm and uncertainty, which sometimes manifests as a combination of aggressive shyness. He doesn’t know how to talk to Edie or express his feelings, but he doesn’t want anyone to see that, though Edie quickly catches on. I was also impressed with the hard-core and impassioned Father Barry, as played by Karl Malden. I grew up watching him in Pollyanna, the pastor under the thumb of Aunt Polly, and he’s loud and uncouth in The Hanging Tree, clearly possessing  quite an acting range.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Movies

 

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Reminder: The Agatha Christie Blogathon is coming up next week!

AgathaChristieJust a reminder that next week the Agatha Christie Blogathon begins: Friday the 16th through Sunday the 18th! Domi from Little Bits of Classics and I are really looking forward to reading everyone’s entries.

There is still plenty of time to sign up if you want to participate. We are celebrating all things related to Agatha Christie – her novels, her life, her characters. More information can be found on the original announcement, here.

So please join us in celebration of Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday (September 15th). May her reign as the Queen of Crime continue! 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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Announcing the Agatha Christie Blogathon!

AgathaChristieLittle Bits of Classics and I are thrilled and excited to announce the Agatha Christie Blogathon – The Queen of Crime!

When? 

September 16th-18th

Why?

The inspiration for this blogathon is Domi’s of Little Bits of Classics. It is in honor of Agatha Christie’s 126th birthday on the 15th of September.

Rules

All things Agatha Christie are welcome! Anything and everything – her life, her writing style, her characters, her books, the movie adaptations of her books, tributes, retrospections – the more the better! We want to honor everything about the great lady.

The only rules we have are that we are Not Allowing Duplicates on individual Books because there are so many we hope to see covered. There are quite a few movies, too, so we thought we would put a limit of Two Posts Per Movie. However, there is no limit on how many posts can be written about Agatha Christie, her life or her characters. And if you want to compare a book with a movie, even though someone’s already chosen that movie or book singly, that’s great, too!

At the end of each day of the blogathon, either I or Little Bits of Classics will collect all the posts of the day in a recap. To send us your posts on those days you can give us the link to your post, along with your blog name, in the comments section of this post or via twitter (@_cwehner).

Little Bits of Classics and I really want to thank Ruth at Silver Screenings for creating the wonderful banners for this event! Please feel free to take one – which can be found at the bottom of this post – and help us promote.

Sign-Up

You can sign-up using the form below. Each day of the blogathon is dedicated to a different topic.

Friday the 16th – all things Hercule Poirot

Saturday the 17th – all things Miss Marple

Sunday the 18th – all the rest, including Agatha Christie or any other novels or movies not related to Poirot or Miss Marple.

If your chosen topic covers both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, feel free to choose whatever day you like. Also, we’ve provided a definition of your topic in the sign-up sheet. The purpose is to help distinguish if someone has elected to write, for example, about Witness for the Prosecution the movie, the play or the short story. That way, if you check the roster, you can see that though someone has perhaps chosen to write about the movie, the play is still open.

Also, please note that the Year of Release option on the sign-up form is for movies. That option is there to help in case of multiple adaptations of the same story. Like Murder on the Orient Express. Though we are not allowing multiple posts on individual movies, there are still several movie adaptations of that book.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either Little Bits of Classics or me. We can’t wait to read all your contributions in September!

 

Below is the roster for the blogathon so far. To view it in full, click here.

 

Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews – 4:50 From Paddington and Murder, She Said

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies And The There Were None

Critica Retro – Death On the Nile

Caftan Woman – Evil Under the Sun

M.C. Dulac – Death on the Nile

The Dream Book Blog – Poirot Series: “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”

Cleopatra Loves Books – Murder at the Vicarage

Old Hollywood Films – An Overview of Margaret Rutherford’s Miss Marple

Serendipitous Anachronisms – The Mousetrap (play)

Silver Scenes  A Caribbean Mystery and Murder is Easy

Ah Sweet Mystery of Life After the Funeral

 

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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Books, Movies

 

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