A dim-witted yet kind-hearted boxer, Terry Malloy, who failed to succeed unintentionally lures a man to his death after being tricked by a criminal called Johnny Friendly whose men pick of every man who has the courage to speak up to their crimes. As he works on the waterfronts that Friendly owns, he is sent to a church meeting run by a good preacher about how to deal with the problem and runs into the dead man’s sister. Slowly, he falls in love with her and begins to feel guilt about his crime.
You think you're God Almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin' mug! And I'm glad what I done to you, ya hear that? I'm glad what I done! On the Waterfront is directed by Elia Kazan and adapted to screenplay by Budd Schulberg from a series of Malcolm Johnson articles. It stars Marlon Brando, lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Pat Henning. Music is by Leonard Bernstein and cinematography by Boris Kaufman. Terry Malloy (Brando) was once a boxer with potential and big dreams. Now working as a longshoreman on the docks for mob boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb), Terry witnesses the murder of a fellow dock worker and finds himself conflicted about if he should inform to the crime commission about what he knows, more so as he gets in tight with the dead man's sister. As good as anything Kazan, Brando and Kaufman ever did, On the Waterfront strips it down to a stench filled corrupt part of New York as honest hard working men battle to make ends meet under the rule of corrupt mob led union bosses. The dialogue is almost lyrical in its simplicity, deftly at odds with the dull pallor of the environment involving barely livable housing and misty docks holding awful secrets. Although a defence for squealing, with the finger pointed at those in the high chairs here, it's a seminal classic that deserved every Oscar win and nomination that it got. From the electric "contender" speech (watch Steiger's facial acting here), to Brando's heart aching discovery of his beloved bids being killed, and onto the unforgettable punch the air finale, thisis a s good as classic cinema gets. 10/10
This coulda’ been a contender in a lot of greatest movie polls if people just took a second to fully appreciate it.