On the Waterfront

oh, Charlie...

Title: On the Waterfront
Year: 1954
Length: 108 minutes
Director: Elia Kazan
Writer: Budd Schulberg, “suggested by” articles by Malcolm Johnson
Starring: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Distinctions: Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story and Screenplay, Best Actor (Brando), Best Supporting Actress (Saint), Best Cinematography (black-and-white), Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (black-and-white) and Best Editing; Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Malden), Best Supporting Actor (Cobb), Best Supporting Actor (Steiger) and Best Score; currently #103 on IMDb’s Top 250

My reaction
Synopsis: dock workers are afraid to speak up against their murder-happy union
How I saw it: on video (rented from Netflix), yesterday
Concept: Okay. Makes for a solid story, but if Brando hadn’t gotten his hands on that character it wouldn’t have been anything special.
Story: Great.
Characters: Great.
Dialog: Great.
Pacing: Okay. Never boring, but it does feel too long.
Cinematography: Indifferent. Does everything it needs to, but never more.
Special effects/design: Eh. The location sets are good. The sound is terrible. And my goodness what did the make-up people do to Brando’s face? As my wife says, his eyebrows are magnificent.
Acting: Great. About as good as acting gets.
Music: Okay. It’s good music, but it is not a score.
Subjective Rating: 7/10 (Good). Underneath all the exceptional writing and acting, at its heart it’s still just a gangster movie.
Objective Rating: 8/10 (points off for cinematography and special effects/design) 2.9/4 (Good).


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