Tuesday, 27 July 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 314

46 - On The Waterfront - 5 stars
This film could have got five stars for the "I coulda been a contender" speech alone.
It is amazing that I hadn't noticed it before but this film was a huge influence on Sylvester Stallone's Rocky.
In fact Rocky is essentially what would have happened if Terry Malloy had got a shot to escape the docks.
Like Rocky, Terry Malloy is a small time hood and boxer who works as enforcer to a local union boss who becomes conflicted when he gets involved with the sister of a man who was killed for snitching to the police.
Does he do the right thing and talk to the police and lift the stranglehold that the union has over the waterfront, which would involve betraying his brother, or keep quiet and risk losing the girl?
Elia Kazan uses the film to make a statement about the McCarthy investigations of the House of Un-American Activities Commitee, because he named names during the time and in this film Malloy faces a decision whether to name names and face the consequences and repurcussions, or stay silent.
The internal conflict felt by Terry Malloy is superbly played out by Brando in one of the all time great screen performances. Brooding physicality that slowly gives way to a touching vunerability that boils over to the surface in the aforementioned scene.
It is one of the greatest monologues I've ever heard and played with such conviction as Brando, being driven to his death, tells his brother Charlie that he was the reason that he never had a chance to make it big as a boxer, that Charlie should of looked out for him instead of going with the word of the union boss.
It's an incredibly emotional moment that forces both brothers to make a decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

Days remaining - 51 Films remaining - 51

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