On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 film about mob violence and corruption on the docks, and became a standard of its kind. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and stars Marlon Brando. The film deals with social issues which paralleled the emerging organization of labor.
It is seen by many as a jab by Kazan at his former close friend, Arthur Miller, who along with Lillian Hellman was bitterly and openly resentful of Kazan's "betrayal" of film artists to the HUAC as "communists". On the Waterfront, being about a heroic mob informer, is widely considered to be Kazan's answer to his critics. Miller's The Crucible, about a heroic New England Puritan who chooses to die rather than make false accusations of witchcraft, is considered a response to Kazan.
The irony of On the Waterfront, is that it protagonist's (Terry Malloy's) fight against corruption was an inspired echo of Arthur Miller's own famed fight against the McCarthyist-era Senate, perhaps in an attempt at healing their torn friendship. Both the Senate of the time, and the fictional mob in the movie being incarnations of a equivalent kind of mob mentality. It's labor theme had echoes of socialist sympathies, and though well enough disguised was a controversial and resonant work of art, at a time when the "red scare" was a prominent aspect in American life.
It was the winner of eight Oscars
- Academy Award for Best Actor - Marlon Brando
- Academy Award for Best Picture - Sam Speigel, producer
- Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress - Eva Marie Saint
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, black-and-white - Richard Day
- Academy Award for Best Cinematography, black-and-white - Boris Kaufman
- Academy Award for Directing - Elia Kazan
- Academy Award for Best Film Editing - Gene Milford
- Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Budd Schulberg