On the Waterfront released in 1954 won 8 Academy Awards including gongs
for Marlon Brando (best actor), Eva Marie Saint (best actress) plus best picture,
best director, best screenplay, and best editing. It also garnered Academy Award
nominations for Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger and Karl Malden – plus the music
of Leonard Bernstein.
The DVD release of this classic film gives us the opportunity of not only admiring
afresh the fine ensemble acting with Brando, Steiger, Cobb, Malden and Saint
all contributing riveting performances but also to admire Leonard Bernstein's
atmospheric and dramatic score. His music reflects not only the cold, harsh,
often brutal life of the New York dock labourers (listen to the hard, wild percussion,
the wailing saxophone, and the baying brass of the opening sequence, for instance,
as Terry (Brando) is set up into decoying a rebellious worker to his death at
the hands of the mob); but also more tender, more compliant music for the romance
between Terry and Edie (Eva Marie Saint) who appeals to his better nature and
persuades him to turn against the mob. Added to this is the splendidly descriptive
music evoking the New York waterfront in winter. See also the review of Bernstein's
symphonic suite from the music he composed for On the Waterfront
on the album, New York, New York – Leonard Bernstein
on Broadway reviewed on this site this month.
Although this DVD is not exactly feature-rich it does include an in-depth analysis
of probably the most famous and most discussed scene in the film, that shot
in the back of the taxi cab in which in vain Charley the Gent (Steiger) tries,
in vain, to dissuade his brother Terry (Brando) from giving evidence against
the mob knowing that their brotherly love will be his death warrant.