On the Waterfront

Year: 1954
Studio: Columbia
Director: Elia Kazan
Producer: Sam Spiegel
Cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint
One of those ones you just have to see if you're a film fan, a few rungs down the ladder from Apocalypse Now and The Godfather but a cinematic classic nevertheless.

Dockworker Terry (Brando) is a young thug who just wants to keep his head down and have a few beers after work, turning a blind eye to corruption and standover tactics (including murder) among his fellows.

When he's made complicit in the murder of an idealist who was going to talk to the law, guilt creeps in. Then pressure starts to come from two sources; the local priest (Malden) who launches a crusade to drive out the criminal elements and the beautiful sister of the first victim (Saint), determined to discover the truth about his killing as her and Terry fall in love.

There are a lot of touches that date the movie, in particular dealing with Saint and her character being a delicate little mouse how needs help even leaving a pub, but as a urban fable you have to try and look beyond it. I also kept a sharp eye open for Brando's 'I coulda been a contender' speech, expecting Shakespearian heights of drama, but he was more of a compelling screen presence than a honed acting talent.

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