On the Waterfront is a perfect film. Not one scrap of dialogue is flat or forced. Not one shot is overdone. And the performances are unforgettable.
I found this film so moving that I had urged my father to see it because I knew it would be right up his alley. His job was administering the movement of freight between ships and box cars for the Lackawanna Railroad in NY harbor. He managed two waterfront offices, one in Hoboken, the other across the river in Manhattan. But he returned from seeing the film angry at me for recommending it, saying, "I have to see this s*** everyday!" I didn't realize that sometimes being reminded of stark reality can be too much up one's alley.
On the Waterfront is a hard film to watch, but it is a film about redemption hard earned. A much harder great film to watch is Citizen Kane. That movie is about damnation. On your next viewing of Citizen Kane, pay attention to the last interviewee, the Xanadu butler Raymond. Gee, I wonder who Raymond is? He has the very last line in the movie.
This is a difficult film to watch, but still great. I agree that Fr. Barry is one if the best portrayals of a priest in Hollywood. Two others that stand out are Fr. Logan in I Confess and Fr. John in When in Rome (1952).
“You was my brother Chollie. You wuz supposed to look out for me...” the scene with Brando and Steiger in the back of the sedan may be my favorite scene in all cinema.
The legendary Times film critic Bosley Crowther includes OTW in his fine collection “The Great Films”. I recommend the essay there.
On the Waterfront has some wonderful scenes. What ruined the movie as a whole for me was the character of Fr. Barry. There was nothing priestly about him, in my opinion. Was his portrayal a hint of what was to come among the clergy in the 60's and 70's where so many priests were more like social activists? Think: "the radical priest come to get me released" in Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio down by the schoolyard".
“ On the Waterfront is a perfect film.”
It truly is. Thank you!!