Review by Brian Koller|
3½ stars out of 4
"On The Waterfront" is a classic film that nearly measures
up to its reputation. While the characters are too neatly
divided into good and evil, and the drama is sometimes
overdone, there's never a dull moment, and the cast and
cinematography is excellent.
Marlon Brando stars as a dense washed-up boxer who works on
the waterfront as a flunkie for corrupt union boss Lee J.
Cobb. Brando's older brother, Rod Steiger, is Cobb's
attorney. Cobb has a policy of murdering workers who inform.
Brando unwittingly assists in a union-ordered murder,
and gets a subpoena to testify against Cobb. Aggressive
priest Karl Malden and goody two-shoe new girlfriend
Eva Marie Saint want him to testify. Cobb tells Steiger
that Brando had better not, or else.
"On The Waterfront" is most famous for Brando's performance,
especially the scene where he tells Steiger that "I coulda
been a contender, I coulda been somebody." Brando is fine,
but almost anyone could have played the palooka. Malden
is a bit hammy, but his energy is still welcome. Cobb is
excellent as the menacing union boss.
Academy Awards and nominations were showered on the cast
and crew of "On The Waterfront". The film won Best Picture,
Best Writing, Best Actor (Brando), Best Director (Elia Kazan),
Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction (sets).
Eva Marie Saint won Best Supporting Actress, while Malden,
Cobb and Steiger had to settle for Best Supporting Actor
It was Marie Saint's first feature film, although she was
already a veteran television performer. She is proof
that a great production contributes more to receiving
an Oscar than one's performance.
Kazan and Malden must have worked well together, since
Malden had a starring role in four of Kazan's films.
Copyright © 1999 Brian Koller