Thursday, August 25, 2011

"On the Waterfront" fitting conclusion to my summer of great films

Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint in a screens...Image via WikipediaOn the Waterfront reminded me a lot of Casablanca. Not because of the plot, acting, etc., but because this film influenced so many others. It was more complex than I had thought, especially with the relationship between  brothers Terry (Marlon Brando) and Charlie (Rod Steiger) Malloy.

Brando plays a washed up boxer who works on the docks and as muscle for the local mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). His brother Charlie is Johnny's right hand man. Terry unwittingly helps Johnny get rid of a dock worker who was preparing to go to the police, but when Terry begins to fall in love with the victim's sister Edie (played by Eva Marie Saint), complications ensue. You could teach a great lesson on internal and external conflict using this film.

As someone who had only seen Brando in his later films, I finally understood why he earned the reputation as a screen legend. Every "tough guy with a heart of gold" draws his inspiration from Brando's portrayal of Terry Malloy.

Eva Marie Saint and Karl Malden in a screensho...Image via WikipediaEven more impressive for me was Karl Malden (left) as the street wise parish priest Father Barry. He's able to bridge the gap between Terry and Edie. Fans of Streets of San Francisco will be amazed.

I wasn't very impressed with Saint's Edie. I didn't really feel the chemistry between her and Brando.

The powerful final scene caps off a well deserved ranking of number 19 in AFI's Top 100.

School begins again next week, so this will probably be it for my AFI summer. I watched 10 of the films on the list - not bad.

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