My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 24: On the Waterfront (Best Picture Ranking)

On the Waterfront is among the most famous movies ever to win the Oscar for Best Picture – and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. It’s a gripping and dark tale about union violence and corruption among longshoremen, starring such accomplished actors as Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint and, of course, Marlon Brando.

Director Elia Kazan successfully created a very dirty and almost depressing atmosphere, a world of violence in which only the strongest survive. Right in the middle of this world appears Edie Doyle, a young, naïve, sweet but also determined woman who wants to find the killer of her brother who wanted to testify about the crimes at the waterfront. Eva Marie Saint’s delicate portrayal of this young woman shines like a ray of light into this dark world and she manages to perfectly hold her own against the more showy performances of her male co-stars. Karl Malden’s Father Barry is a wonderful creation and shows a man who is a man of God just as he is a man of the streets and knows about the realities of life. Lee J. Cobb turns Johnny Friendly, the union boss, into one loud and obnoxious character without ever becoming unbelievable. Rod Steiger gives the most touching and developed performance of the supporting players and he contributes just as much to the famous ‘I could have been a contender’-scene as Marlon Brando does. Which brings us right to the most celebrated performance in this movie – Marlon Brando’s combination of tough masculinity and surprising sensitivity has often been copied but never equalled. His display of Terry’s character arc is already an astonishing accomplishment but his ability to get completely lost inside the character makes his performance even more outstanding.

Elia Kazan tells a fascinating story of repression and fear, of the question ‘what is right and what is wrong?’ and of a world that has its own morale – the constant mention of the concept ‘D&D’ which refers to the fact that the men are ‘deaf and dumb’ when it comes to the mistreatments by Friendly and his gang shows how this group seems to exist in its own micro cosmos which cannot be understood by outsiders like Edie or the police. And so it takes one men from the inside to stand up against it even it means breaking this sort of honorary codex. Kazan and his actors portray this story with a startling realism. Basically, it’s the combination of a fight against injustice, a thriller, a love story and a human drama which turns On the Waterfront into a true masterpiece.

On the Waterfront is full of obvious and subtle symbolism, of gripping suspense and provoking actions, brought to life by the overwhelming talent behind and in front of the camera.


Louis Morgan said...

I disagree, not on anything you say, but placement. This film is an exceedingly powerful film. I would definitely put this in my top ten, and I am unable to see anyway to put American Beauty, The English Patient, or even The Hurt Locker above this film.

Anonymous said...

Way to low in my opinion, this definitely belongs to the top 15.