Thursday, January 26, 2012

"On the Waterfront" a class struggle that still strikes a chord

Please welcome guest blogger, Jenny Lynn Wood. Her own blog can be found at this address. An impassioned movie lover, Jenny holds a Bachelor's Degree in Film Studies from the University of Colorado. You can also see her most recent work as a post-production crew member on "Mad Men" when it airs its fifth season this March.


BASIC INFO:
TITLE: "On the Waterfront"
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1954
DIRECTOR: Elia Kazan
STARS: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb and introducing Eva Marie Saint
EDITOR: Gene Milford
AWARDS: Won 8 Academy Awards: Most Notably for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction 
BOX OFFICE: $9,600,000 (USA)
RUN TIME: 108 min.
RATING: Approved
VIEWING FORMAT: Netflix Streaming





SUMMARY:



Tony Malloy, an ex-prize fighting boxer, becomes a longshoreman who has family ties to the mob who controls the waterfront. When Terry is involved in the murder of an innocent man, he struggles to break free of the corruption controlling the docks while leading others to follow his cause.


WHY THIS IS THE FILM OF THE WEEK:


On The Waterfront is one of the most critically acclaimed movies in the history of cinema. It was nominated for 12 Academy Awards in 1955, winning 8. It consistently ranks in the top 100 of all major film lists. 
This film remains universally relevant and the themes of injustice, plight of the common man, and the struggle for freedom remain key themes in cinema even today. This film resonates with everyone who watches it and this writer believes that this is the reason for its timelessness. 
It was also Eva Marie Saint’s debut feature film, which also garnered her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. This began her illustrious career and helped secure a famous role in Hitchcock’s "Vertigo" in 1958. 


CRITIQUE:


Kazan’s tale of class struggle remains as relevant today as it did in 1955. Brando has been forever remembered for his portrayal of Terry Malloy, a young man trapped within a system of unfairness beyond his means of control. When Terry is involved in the death of an honest man, who tried to stand up to the mob, he begins to struggle within himself to find a way out. He becomes romantically involved with the victim’s sister Edie (Saint) and together, with the town priest, decide to stand up against the corrupt mob controlling the waterfront. 
This film is beautifully arranged in both its words and images. The stark black and white cinematography seeks to articulate the plight of the common man versus the indulgence of the mob bosses, who seek to live their lives without consequences. 
The performances in this film are what helps it to shine. This writer found the conflicted nature of Brando’s nuanced performance both impassioned for his plight, and apathetic to his circumstance. It is only with the insistent solidarity created by the community, that Terry is able to stand up against the mob that tried desperately to contain him.  
Kazan’s film will always remain a cornerstone of cinema, not only for its artistic merit but for its examination of struggle and captivity of industry that some still feel in this country today. 


MY IMDb RATING:  9 out of 10


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