On the Waterfront

After weeks of procrastination (and a few legitimate excuses), here is the Mafia-related movie post. Sorry, Liz!


 I love this poster — it’s so over the top. 

Liz: Waterfront workers line up every morning to unload cargo on the docks, but only those favored by union controller and mob boss Johnny Friendly get work. Those who stand against the mob end up dead. After the murder of a teen, a priest and the boy’s sister seeking justice find help in an unlikely source: Terry Malloy, kid brother of Friendly’s right hand man.

So, did Karl Malden ever play anything other than a priest? On the Waterfront, Poseidon Adventure, Pollyanna…


Seriously though, he did a great job. And he was no quiet spoken priest with a tender touch. I loved his tough, not-too-polite, cigarette smoking, hit-you-when-necessary character as much as Marlon Brando’s simple, but charming in a diamond-in-the-rough way, Terry Malloy.


Brando’s reaction when realizing he’d set up a kid for his death seemed underplayed to me. There wasn’t much reaction at all at first. Otherwise, I thought he did a great job, as did the other actors.

On the Waterfront is not my typical movie choice, but I enjoyed it. People standing up for what’s right is always encouraging, though the thought that people were actually living in such poverty and fear is rather shocking.

Conclusion: Definitely deserves all the awards it got.

Jaz: I have a confession to make: I didn’t know that the quote “I coulda been a contender” originated from On the Waterfront.

Go ahead, judge me. All those years of hearing my father quote it (along with “I thought you was hungry so I brought you a stick of gum” – no idea where that’s from), and me a self-proclaimed classic film fan!

Another confession … You know those movies you enjoy watching, then forget about? On the Waterfront was one of those for me. It’s poignant, well done, based on true events, and Brando and Eva Marie Saint delivered superb performances, blended with perfect chemistry.

thumbs_marlon brando and Eva Marie Saint, on the waterfront

In spite of all this, it didn’t resonate with me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate this or different genres – I watch everything from martial arts films to sappy chic-flicks to mystery/suspense to Westerns to gangster films. Most everything except horror. If I want horror, I’ll just eat a MacBacon-CheeseLovinWhopper right before bed, no monthly Netflix fee required.

But back to the film. Beaver disagrees with me. He feels I’m not reading deeply enough into the film to appreciate its characters and nuances – it’s so much more than black and white. He’s right, I know. Later I’ll re-watch On the Waterfront … in addition to making that felt fedora hat the Beav’s been clamoring for since we watched it.

We give this 4 carrot sticks (out of five).


We visit historic Mafia towns …

If you’ve wondered why the blog’s been kinda silent for a while, Jaz and I have both been doing a good bit of traveling. To places connected to the mafia, no less. Destinations: Chicago and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We’ve all heard of the mafia in Chicago and New York, but Hot Springs? That little tourist town? Yep.

When the mob bosses, like Al Capone, needed to get away from the cops, they’d skip on down to the secluded, picturesque, but far from Hallmark-movie-little-town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Full of illegal gambling, prostitution, and corrupt government, Hot Springs was just like a home away from home for them. It even had its own local competing gaming bosses, the Flynns and the Dorans (they had a famous shootout in 1899, so I’m not sure if they were still around during the peak of the big city mafia visits in the 30s). Al Capone, Frank Costello, Bugs Moran, and Lucky Luciana were among its notorious guests. (http://www.hotsprings.org/pages/history/)


Don’t be deceived by its adorable cutesy-ness. 

Hot Springs is now known for its natural hot springs and old bath houses, but it still has a relics of its past, including The Gangster Museum of America (Jaz: sadly, we didn’t visit). http://www.hotsprings.org/pages/history/


Unexciting photo of a historic Hot Springs bathhouse.

Chicago. The Windy City was amazing. (The Calamity Jane song reference doesn’t really go with our theme, but I couldn’t help it.) The food, the architecture, the tour of Al Capone’s house and all the mafia-related spots (just kidding) (Jaz: You should have!). I did go to Union Station, however, location of the mafia shootout on which the Kevin Costner movie The Untouchables was based.

I may have even seen one of the bullet holes . . .

Bullet hole

Bullet hole at Union Station! How cool is that?

Since this is a classic book and movie blog, not a vacation blog, our next post will be on a mafia-related movie. Care to guess which one? And no, it’s not The Godfather.