ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) B/W widescreen 108m dir: Elia Kazan
w/Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, Eva Marie Saint, Leif Erickson, James Westerfield, Tony Galento, Tami Mauriello
Forceful, super-charged melodrama about the docks of New Jersey --- the workers, the bosses, the criminals, and their families.
From The Movie Guide: "A tour de force for director Elia Kazan, star Marlon Brando and, perhaps above all, cinematographer Boris Kaufman....
"Brando is spectacular as the ex-fighter who finds his conscience and risks his life for his newfound principles. The realistic dialogue is poetic in its simplicity, and the seedy tenements and clammy docks are strikingly captured. Kazan sets every scene with menace and suspense, evoking a pitiless world where tough hope is requisite for survival. Cobb is a great villain, exercising his power with a payoff, a sneering smile, and a booming voice, and his goons are really frightening characters, many of them former real-life boxers with faces scarred by years in the ring. Saint is an island of sanity and decency, but the attempt to use Malden as a symbol of good in a troubled world is awfully pat. The film is a draining experience from beginning to end, relentless in its portrayal of inhumanity. And it is all the more grim and hard-hitting because of the steel-gray look of cinematographer Kaufman's startling, neo-documentary approach.
"A controversial film of its time because of its violence, raw language (at one point Terry [Brando] tells the priest to 'go to hell'), and its daring in representing labor unions in a negative light, WATERFRONT enjoyed a surprising box office success to match its critical acclaim, taking in $9.5 million on a $900,000 investment."
ON THE WATERFRONT won eight Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brando), Supporting Actress (Saint), Story & Screenplay (Budd Schulberg), Cinematography (Kaufman), Editing (Gene Milford), and Art Direction (Richard Day). The film also was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (three nominations: Cobb, Malden, & Steiger) and Score (Leonard Bernstein).