Tag Archives: On the Waterfront

Film: On the Waterfront


The film was based on a series of investigative articles by Malcolm Johnson in the New York Sun that won a Pulitzer Prize. Writer Budd Schulberg was fascinated by them, and used them as the skeleton of his screenplay. Uploaded to Photobucket by jedimoonshyne9.

Brando at his best. That’s really all you need to know to put On the Waterfront at the top of your “must-see” list. And it’s more than just the “I coulda been somebody. I coulda been a contender” scene. It’s a story about the mob, and corruption, and loyalty.

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Like most great films, On the Waterfront has a terrific cast. In addition to Brando (did I mention this was him at his best?), the ensemble included Lee J. Cobb, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, and Rod Steiger. Just as important were the people behind the camera. Elia Kazan directed, Budd Schulberg wrote the screenplay, and Leonard Bernstein composed the music. Not surprisingly, the film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won 8, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Screenplay.

The legacy of the movie is evident in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100… series. It ranked number 8 in …100 Movies; Terry Malloy (Brando’s character) was number 23 hero in …100 Heroes and Villains; it earned number 22 in …100 Film Scores; and “I coulda been a contender” ranked number 3 in …100 Movie Quotes.

Actor: Marlon Brando

Which Brando do you like better - young, sex symbol Brando or mature Godfather Brando? uploaded by questionidfeeling.wordpress.com.

IMDb says Brando is considered the greatest movie actor of all time. The AFI named him the fourth-greatest male star of all time. Personally, I wouldn’t rank him so high. But there’s no denying that he belongs in any discussion of Great American Things.

Seldom has an actor changed so much as he aged. It’s hard to believe the young Brando of On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire is the same person as the mature Brando of Apocalypse Now and The Godfather (Great American Things, June 21, 2009). His appearance changed, but so did his acting style, reflecting some of the problems that he experienced in his off-screen life.

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Even so, look at the films he’s been in. In addition to the four listed above, he starred in The Wild OneGuys and DollsMutiny on the Bounty… and Last Tango in Paris. Most actors would have considered any of those as the movie of their lives, and Brando had eight. He won the Oscar for Best Actor twice, Supporing Actor once, and was nominated a total of eight times. (Of course, he didn’t always accept his awards, but that’s for another blog to explain.)

He essentially parodied his Don Corleone part in the movie The Freshman, but it’s always been one of my favorite small films. Even so, Martin Scorsese said, “He’s the marker. There’s ‘Before Brando’ and ‘After Brando’.” Brando became somewhat more cynical in later life, saying, “The only reason I’m in Hollywood is that I don’t have the moral courage to refuse the money.”