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Posts Tagged ‘on the waterfront’

2. On the Waterfront (1954)

Other Nominated Films:
The Canine Mutiny, The Country Girl, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Three Coins in the Fountain

This isn’t the first Elia Kazan film to make an appearance on this list: Gentleman’s Agreement won Best Picture in 1948 (#26 on the list). When talking about directors, I’ve primarily focused on the films they released and the impact those films had on audiences. While Kazan captivated audiences with his work behind the camera, he may be best known for the people that he put in front of the camera.  Kazan helped introduce many new and exciting actors to movie audiences including Marlon Brando, James Dean, Warren Beatty, Julie Harris, Andy Griffith, Eli Wallach and Eva Marie Saint. Always striving for cinematic realism, he was able to evoke incredible dramatic performances from his actors, directing them to 21 Oscar nominations and nine Oscar wins. But, let us move onwards! Actually, I lied. Before we move onwards, I just want to say that On the Waterfront is one of Marlon Brando’s earliest roles, and Eva Marie Saint’s very first film. Okay. Now let’s move onwards. It’s important to note that On the Waterfront is based on a number of true stories and is filmed on location around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey.  On the Waterfront begins with Terry Molloy (Brando) luring fellow dockworker Joey Doyle (Ben Wagner) into an ambush so that he cannot testify against union boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), to the Waterfront Crime Commission.  Although Terry believes that Joey will simply be intimidated into not testifying, Joey is killed instead.  Everyone knows that he was murdered on orders from Friendly but no-one is willing to talk; instead they all play “D and D” (deaf and dumb). Terry is angry about being used as a tool in Joey’s death, but he too remains silent.   However things begin to change when Terry meets Joey’s sister, Edie (Saint). Edie’s is angry and upset about her brother’s death, and she tries to shame “waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) into action.  Soon both Edie and Father Barry are urging Terry to testify against Friendly. This is where I’ll stop since if I go on…well…things would be ruined. I wouldn’t want to do that to you all.  On the Waterfront was one of the first films I watched when compiling my list, and I knew right away that it would end up ranking high on my list. Brando gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen and Eva Marie Saint matches Brando scene for scene. Throughout my life, I’ve heard the line “I coulda been a contender” numerous times but never knew where it originated from. When I saw Brando say it …I was blown away. I never expected that line to pack such a punch in the gut, but it did. The line is so iconic that it was voted the #3 top movie quote in the American Film Institute’s Top 100, and the film itself was voted the #8 movie of all time. On the Waterfront provided producer Sam Spiegel his first win for Best Picture and Elia Kazan’s second win for Best Director.

 

Nominated for 12 Oscars, Winner of 8
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Marlon Brando (WON)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Eva Marie Saint (WON)
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White – Richard Day (WON)
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Boris Kaufman (WON)
Best Director – Elia Kazan (WON)
Best Film Editing – Gene Milford (WON)
Best Picture – Sam Spiegel (WON)
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Budd Schulberg (WON)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Lee J. Cobb
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Karl Malden
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Rod Steiger
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture – Leonard Bernstein

Terry: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

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26. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Other Nominated Films:
The Bishop’s Wife, Crossfire, Great Expectations, Miracle on 34th Street

Elia Kazan really has a knack for directing some pretty amazing films. He’s directed classics such as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, and America, America. But the first film to win him Best Director and Best Picture was Gentleman’s Agreement. And this didn’t come without controversy. Given the film’s overtly anti-semetic themes, some Hollywood Execs (many Jewish) were concerned about potential backlash. Some Execs even tried to convince producer Darryl F. Zanuck not to make the film. But Kazan and Zanuck forged ahead with this socially significant film anyway. And, as it turned out, the ‘Jewish-friendly’ (liberal) themed film did, in fact, grab the suspicious attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee.  As a result, Kazan, Zanuck, John Garfield and Anne Revere were called to testify before the committee.   Now, putting aside what was happening off-screen…The film’s plot revolves around the character, Philip Green (Gregory Peck), a journalist that goes undercover as a Jew to conduct research for an article he is writing about anti-semetism.   Green encounters explicit prejudice along the way including professional bias and personal relationship issues, as well as name-calling, discrimination by hotels, etc. Gentleman’s Agreement is a great film that would pave the way for future filmmakers. Kazan took a huge risk in directing a movie of such sensitive nature, and in taking that risk, he created one of the most important films of all time.

Nominated for 8 Oscars, Winner of 3
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Celeste Holm (WON)
Best Director – Elia Kazan (WON)
Best Picture – 20th Century Fox (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Gregory Peck
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Dorothy McGuire
Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Anne Revere
Best Film Editig – Harmon Jones
Best Writing, Screenplay – Moss Hart

Mrs. Green: You know something, Phil? I suddenly want to live to be very old. Very. I want to be around to see what happens. The world is stirring in very strange ways. Maybe this is the century for it. Maybe that’s why it’s so troubled. Other centuries had their driving forces. What will ours have been when men look back? Maybe it won’t be the American century after all… or the Russian century or the atomic century. Wouldn’t it be wonderful… if it turned out to be everybody’s century… when people all over the world – free people – found a way to live together? I’d like to be around to see some of that… even the beginning. I may stick around for quite a while.

(more…)

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