Friday, September 27, 2013

On The Waterfront - Movie Review

The 1954 movie moved so slickly that I never realised that I was already well past the 40th minute. It starts with a bang, a murder of a man thrown from the rooftop, and follows up rapidly on all that led to the murder and after. The aggrieved sister of the deceased, an honest and popular longshoreman who has decided to raise his voice against the mafia on the waterfront, sets the tone and galvanises the local priest into doing something. The girl and the priest on one hand, a penitent gang member Malloy (Marlon Brando) who was the one who drew out the murdered man on the fateful night, and the increasingly insecure and violent gang, set the dynamics, watched by a D & D (deaf and dumb) bunch of longshoremen.

Malon Brando's performance won him an Oscar. The movie won eight Oscars and has gone down as an all time great movie, ranked the eighth greatest American film of all time by the American Film Institute. It reminds us of 'Deewar', the scene on the docks, not as dramatic as Bachchan throwing away the key, but Brando has built up enough anger to fight the mafia boss Joe Friendly single handedly. The D&D gang finally finds some spirit and breaks free. Neatly done and story well told.

What makes you watch this movie till the end? You want to know if justice has been done to the murdered boy. You want to know if the penitent boxer will see reason and stand up. You want to know what will make him stand up to the vicious mob. And you want to know when the victims will stand up too. The sister starts the fight because she lost her brother. The priest takes up the fight because he believes that it's his duty to bring god's word into the waterfront. The boxer does it when he realises that he is just another bum and the mob is the one to blame - and the fact that his brother has been killed by the same mob.

Moral of the story (for the mob) - deal with the issues when they are still small, don't underestimate the girl and the priest and mostly don't ever let a dangerous ally turn against you. For the aspiring screenplay writer its the direct pitch into the problem, the unease that follows throughout and the final push that tips the boxer against the mob that makes it work.

Brando is intense in the role of an ex-boxer who lost his chance to be famous because he was asked to lose a fight. 'On the waterfront' is all I expected, which is great because the expectations were high.

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