Eva Marie Saint played Edie Doyle, the sister of a killed man who wants to know ‘who killed my brother!’ Edie is the central character to the story – she sets the motion in action, she is responsible for the change in Terry’s (Marlon Brando) character, she may appear weak compared to all the tough male characters that dominate the movie but her sweetness and her innocence bring more changes to the waterfront than anything else.
Eva Marie Saint’s own lovely appearance and her sad face work very well here. She shows Edie as a restless character, always moving her eyes, always unsure of herself but also determined to find the killer of her brother. She has a wonderful chemistry with Marlon Brando and the two make one of the greatest Oscar-winning pairs ever. She makes it believable that her softness and her love could change Terry and make him do the right thing even if it means turning against his own people.
Eva Marie Saint has the not easy task of playing a character that’s pure and good in an environment that is anything but. Because of that she could easily have come actress as too saint-like but Eva Marie Saint shows that Edie is shy and quiet and slowly develops feelings for Terry without trying to manipulate him or appearing too naive. She never flirts with him or makes a move on him, instead she makes him love her with her simple way of seeing life: ‘Shouldn’t everybody care about everybody else?’ She is also very touching when she tells Terry ‘Help me if you can, for God’s Sake’ and later she is just lovely when they are dancing and she says ‘I feel like I’m just floating…just floating.’
In the part of Edie, Eva Marie Saint goes through a wide range of emotion – from scared and terrified to loving and sweet to angry and bitter – and everything is done perfectly. She perfectly adds to the later tension of the story when she runs through a dark alley, shouting Terry’s name.
Like Jessica Lange in Tootsie, Eva Marie Saint gives a complex performance of a simple character and she does it beautifully.