Fifth about The Seventh

On the Waterfront (1954)

On the Waterfront: there are a multitude of adjectives that can be used to describe Elia Kazan’s drama: it is hard-hitting (its account of the iron-grip of criminal interests in the union is chilling and fully believable); it is very touching (the opposition of the two brothers is as sad as it can be); it is heavy-handed in its rhetoric, but nevertheless very convincing. The performances are very realistic and, like the film as a whole, brilliant. Marlon Brando, with his puffy, droopy eyes, is raw in his emotions, going from tough to vulnerable in half a line of dialogue; his big scene with Rod Steiger is a masterclass of inner hurt, incredibly played by both performers. Karl Malden is very good as the earnest, combative priests, as is Lee J. Cobb as the not particularly friendly crime boss. Last but not least, Eva Marie Saint is a great choice, sweet and alluring as well as strong-willed. Leonard Bernstein’s musical score is perhaps a tad too forceful, but it’s memorable nevertheless. The film is beautifully shot and lit by director of photography Boris Kaufman on location, and his framing is exquisite, particularly when the frame is crowded with all those wonderful faces (which reinforces how good the casting was, from top to bottom).

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