On The Waterfront



January 17th at 1 PM EDT
On January 17th, Gary Fox will be discussing the fourth film in our series On The Waterfront, described in the following paragraphs. We also are adding some questions to ponder which we think will add to your watching pleasure in addition to providing some focus. Please register and join the moviegoers on the 17th.

Here’s some background information to get you started. Filmed on location in Hoboken, New Jersey in the middle of a freezing winter, On the Waterfront tells the story of Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) and his struggle for redemption. For most of his life, Terry has been controlled by crime boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) but, after being an unwitting accomplice in a murder carried out by Friendly’s henchmen, Terry starts to question his unthinking loyalty. With the support of Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), the murdered man’s sister, Terry is made to see the world of the waterfront with fresh eyes and learns to accept personal responsibility for his past inaction and complicity. The difficult moral choices that Brando’s character must make still resonate and make On the Waterfront an enduring observation of the importance of individual integrity in a treacherous world.

Much of the attention the film still generates flows from Marlon Brando, whose performance is regarded as one of the watershed moments in the history of movies and which brought a new level of realism to film acting. Brando’s influence on subsequent generation of actors and directors cannot be understated as he and director Elia Kazan raised the bar on what a screen performance could be.

The backstory behind the film’s creation involving Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg is both interesting and relevant. Their personal involvement testifying before Congressional committees of the day is equally fascinating and will be explored in Gary’s presentation.

On the Waterfront was a critical and commercial success and is considered one of the greatest films ever made. It received twelve Academy Award nominations and won eight, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Brando, Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint, and Best Director for Kazan.

After you’ve watched the film, here are just a few (of many) questions for you to consider:

• Kazan described On the Waterfront as a classic story of redemption: “This motion picture is about one thing only: a young man who has let his dignity slip away and regains it!” What things make Terry’s struggle to redeem himself so difficult? Does he redeem himself? Would you describe Terry as a hero?

• How does a view of Joey (the murdered man at the beginning of the film) as a Christ-figure affect your opinion of the film’s characters, especially Terry? Are there parallels between the last scene and Christ’s walk-up Calvary Hill?

• In the famous taxicab scene with his brother, Terry says, “I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” How does Terry’s self-realization influence the final fight? Why is it significant that this scene marks Terry’s conversion into a model of strength for the longshoremen? Has he become a contender?

Hope you can join the discussion on January 17th!

Happy viewing,
Gary and Andy