ON THE WATERFRONT, Marlon Brando, 1954

Top 100 Movies of All Time On the Waterfront

Top 100 Movies of All Time On the Waterfront
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Top 100 Movies of All Time On the Waterfront. Wherein we at THiNC. are doing our homework, eating our peas, and attempting to learn from Hollywood’s own list of the 100 best movies of all time. If I were to make a list of the one hundred best movies of all time, almost none of these movies would be on this list. But, maybe this one might be… On the Waterfront.

Interested in watching On the Waterfront right now? Here is where you can find it online right now:

Top 100 Movies of All Time On the Waterfront Overview

I had never heard of the movie On the Waterfront. At least, I had THOUGHT I hadn’t heard of it before. But the further I got into the movie, the more I realized I had actually seen pieces of the film already. Brando, his famous line “I coulda been a contender” line… there were numerous pieces to this film that I recognized. But regardless, it was an intriguing exercise to watch this film from beginning to end.

The movie opens with Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando) who is a washed up boxer who has been pushed into working for the union mob boss Johny “Friendly.” Malloy has been tasked with forcing his fellow dockworker, Joey Doyle, out onto a roof. The union thugs were wanting to “talk” with Joey about the fact that he was going to testify against “Friendly”… but when it goes sideways, and Joey ends up falling to his death, it really impacts Terry Malloy greatly. Which, sort of makes sense, seeing as though he ostensibly just caused a man to get tossed off a roof. Right?

Terry, feeling fairly guilty for having Joey murdered, reconnects with Joey’s sister, Edie, and she guilt’s Father Barry into calling a dockworker meeting. Barry tries to convince the workers to stand united. Terry though has been sent by Friendly to keep an eye on things and report on what the group talked about. But Terry is ridiculed by the dockworkers and the meeting is ultimately shut down by Friendly’s thugs. Terry manages to help Edie get away. Meanwhile Father Barry convinces Kayo to testify against Friendly. And Friendly let’s Terry know that Kayo has already testified against them. Coincidentally, the next day, Kayo is “accidentally” killed by a dropped load of whisky that was released by Friendly’s people. Gotta say, not a horrible way to die, getting hit by a literal ton of whiskey! hahah.

After, Father Barry makes a hell of a speech, I mean… a HECK of a speech. Basically, the gist of it was that Christ is walking among them day in and day out… and that every person murdered is another crucifixion. (Makes me wonder if he understands theology at all. But I guess the Apostle Paul did say, “Shall I sin so that grace may abound, may it never be”… or something to that effect. So I guess it’s not groundless.) Meanwhile, Terry still doesn’t want to testify… even after being subpoenaed, but the audience knows this is the fulcrum around which this entire story will spin. Especially as we watch his guilt levels ratchet up notch after notch as he watches Edie pursue justice on her brother’s behalf. It comes out that Terry’s last boxing match, he threw the match, after Friendly got a hold of him somehow. And after he’s levered in this way, Terry admits he was involved with Joey’s death. Which, doesn’t go over particularly well with Edie.

Terry is pressured by Friendly to not testify, but we can see that Terry is angry with himself for throwing his one best fight opportunity. Why? Because it also ruined his boxing career. Terry avows his love for Edie, which has got to be the fastest forgivenesses in the history of cinema. But you killed my brother! BUT YOU LOVE ME? I LOVE YOU! Soon after, Terry’s brother is hung on a hook by Friendly’s men, and in response, Terry goes to shoot Friendly. But Father Barry intercedes, slows Terry down, and Friendly gets away. Instead, Father Barry convinces Terry to fight Friendly in court. And his moment on the stand means that amazing evidence is presented in the case. In revenge, Friendly bars Terry from any union jobs at the docks. Soon after, Terry is goaded into attacking Friendly, but his thugs beat Terry senseless. In a turn, the longshoremen refuse to work unless Terry is allowed to work also. Edie and Barry help Terry to his feet, and he heads into the warehouse, while Friendly is tossed into the river, and is tossing all manner of vitriol at the group. And as the movie ends, the door closes behind them, and it leaves Friendly outside the warehouse.

Thoughts on On the Waterfront

I’ll be honest here… not a fan. And that is even though there are some interesting points that are being made here about selling out, being a person of integrity, standing up for what is right, and a number of other interesting and quasi-salient points. So if there were a number of interesting details here worth talking about Taylor – why exactly didn’t you like it? Well, the story actually was based on a true story. It was all about a longshoreman who attempted to overthrow a corrupt union. In real life? He failed. But here, in the film, he actually succeeded. And it just causes this movie to feel so dang lame… staged even. Or worse! It comes off as a propagandist’s dream. Fatally saccharine. The real life longshoremen used in the movie look so horrifically fake that it seems as though the film’s director was worried that these real life individuals will break free and ruin his movie if not blocked tightly. It just seems so horribly fake from beginning to end.

The reason I didn’t post a Top 100 movie last week? I literally couldn’t bring myself to actually finish this movie. I just had the worst time struggling through this one. Sure, it makes me a movie Luddite. That’s fine. But I just couldn’t handle this one. It didn’t age well at all. Not even a little bit. 8 Oscars? Wow. That is just mind blowing to me.

Edited by: CY