Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On the Waterfront (4.5)

(Watch the Trailer)

1954 classic by Elia Kazan starring Marlon Brando. 8 Oscar wins and on every top 100 films list, including the one I'm slowly working through.

An ex boxer gets caught up in the battle between the working class and the corrupt union bosses who run the waterfront and will stop at nothing to gain power.

I haven't seen Marlon Brando in many things besides The Godfather so I was really looking forward to see him in this film. When he first comes into frame he looks like he could've been any other guy, even an extra. The first few minutes I was wondering to myself why was this guy so big, what did everyone see in him? Then the movie started to really get going and I understood. There really is just something about Brando. The way he holds himself and the way he talks. Even his eyes, when the camera was fixed on him it was magnetic. By the end of the movie I wanted nothing more but to applaud him. He made me care about what happened to Terry Malloy and by the end I was as hopeless against him as Edie was.

The love interest Edie, who was played by Eva Marie Saint, was surprisingly amazing in this movie. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate classic actresses, but they style of their time forced them to be...well, stupid. Their characters and the way women were written made them so. This is not the case here, Eva could and did hold her own when next to Brando and it was refreshing to not have to roll my eyes at her like I do most other female leads in the days before technicolour.

I liked this story. I liked the characters. I loved that the main character wasn't a hero and that he wasn't smart or really talented but he was tough and he was moral. I couldn't stop watching this movie once it started really going, I was hooked. The story consumes you and then you find yourself wanting justice just as much as the characters do. You want to see what Brando will do next. How the relationship between Eva and him could ever work. Who will die next. And then the final scene is amazing and wham, "the end".

The directing and cinematography was brilliant and sometimes stunning. There were certain shots that I've seen done over and over again in other movies since. How could you not be inspired by this film?

I can see why this won 8 Oscars. I understand now what the big deal is with Marlon Brando. It was refreshingly fast paced for the old black and white format and I found the story helped with that a lot. By the end I was emotionally attached to the story and the characters...this most definitely is an essential film.

Romance, action, drama, a little comedy and an ending you wont forget. What more could you ask for?


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