I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Sunday, March 11, 2012

On the Waterfront, 1954









Not Rated

This was my first time seeing this film, considered a semi-documentary/expose/thriller, which follows the corruption among New York dockworkers and its mob-run labor union in the ‘50s. I had a little crush on Marlon Brando who plays the ex-heavyweight boxer turned longshoreman, Terry Malloy,  who refuses to allow the corruption to continue; he’s a tough guy with a soft center and he plays it perfectly. I admire him more as an actor now… I’ve seen a few of his films and I think he picks great characters and can turn out good accents.

When the attractive sister of an innocent victim of the union mob walks into Malloy’s life, he soon realizes he can change his fate, challenge the higher-ups, and potentially reform the workforce.  He teams up with the town’s priest and they both fight (literally and metaphorically) to stop the problematic working conditions. Edie, (the sister, who I think is the only female in the movie), follows along trying to bring justice as well.

This was a low-budget film that brought attention to the oppression on such docks and critics hailed the film because of that. It was filmed on-location in Hoboken, New Jersey (in actual cargo holds, alleys, bars, and rooftops) and some of the actors were ex-heavyweight boxers themselves.

One question: Malloy (and a couple of neighborhood kids) appear to have a collection of caged pigeons on the roof that they regularly visit and care for…. WHY? Are these filthy birds worth analyzing? Encouraged to breed? I understand these must be homing pigeons but I still feel like I’m missing something here. I vividly remember a scene from “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street” (yes, you read that right), when Big Bird goes up on the roof to wait for Santa Claus… There are caged pigeons up there too who he says hello to before accidentally nodding off. It must be a New York thing. After reading a little about the film, I realized there’s an obvious irony there… Terry Malloy becomes a marked “pigeon” of the mob (meaning they’re comin’ after him) since he’s willing to testify against them.


This film was up against “The Caine Mutiny”, “The Country Girl”, “Three Coins in a Fountain”, and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”. I have only seen the last nominee (naturally, because of my love of musicals). “On the Waterfront” had an impressive twelve nominations and won eight awards. Marlon won Best Actor for this role, but it was a surprise to the public- Bing Crosby was the favored actor in one of his four dramatic roles. Kazan also won for Best Director, following his win from “Gentleman’s Agreement” seven years before. The film was nominated for Best Musical Score but didn’t win; I’m surprised it was even nominated because I even commented to my hubby during the film that the music was actually more distracting than it was fitting. It got far too loud at some points and didn’t always match the mood or emotion perfectly.

FAVORITE SCENE:

Terry takes Edie for a walk, engaging in their first real conversation since the death of her brother. She is shy and demure, he’s a self-proclaimed “bum”, but he is obviously entranced by her. You can tell things are clicking in his head and a change is going to take place.


LESSON LEARNED:

This film raises some interesting questions about the nature of power in the workforce. At great risk to himself and his family, Malloy still stands up for what’s right. It takes incredible courage to combat a more powerful contender in the wrong. Malloy does so courageously and admirably.

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