January 06, 2017

Movie Club - On The Waterfront

This month the Movie Club will be screening ‘On The Waterfront’, starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint, and directed by Elia Kazan.
Filmed in 1954 on location in the docks of New York, the film is a gritty look at the lives of the dock workers, mobs and unions. The film is based on the true stories reported by American investigative journalist Malcolm Johnson in his series Crime on the Waterfront. It is also important to note that while the film is based on Johnson’s investigative reports, the film can also be understood as a justification for Elia Kazan (the director) in his real-life decision to testify against his friends who were involved with the Communist Party. Combine these two layers of real-life inspiration and you get ‘On The Waterfront’. Therefore the political agenda is clear in the film and is highlighted through the character of Terry Malloy (Brando) and his underdog status.
Terry Malloy is an uneducated dock worker, tough and tender at the same time, who is unknowingly used to facilitate the death of Edie’s (Eva Marie Saint) brother who has disobeyed union bosses. This makes Terry question himself and question the status quo. This leads him to be the voice of the dockworkers and to stand up against the mob and the crime riddled docks.

‘On The Waterfront’ won 8 Oscars and impacted the way movies were made and the way actors acted—a move towards realism. The film follows a traditional story-telling structure where the hero (Terry Malloy) wins out against all odds and this is where it falls short. For all its realist depictions, the conclusion wasn’t subversive enough—things turned out all too well for Terry to fit into the realism genre the film sets up. Nonetheless the film has a punchy dialogue and strong characterisation which has made it a classic American film.
The film will be screened on Wednesday 11 January at 6pm at Narellan Library, Corner of Queen and Elyard Street, Narellan. Tea, coffee, and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening to share your thoughts about the film and join in a discussion about the film.

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