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On The Waterfront

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

On the Waterfront (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The Man Lived by the Jungle Law of the Docks!

Starring – Marlon Brando (Terry Malloy), Karl Malden (Father Barry), Lee J. Cobb (Johnny Friendly), Rod Steiger (Charley Malloy), Eva Marie Saint (Edie Doyle).

Released – July, 1954

Directed By – Elia Kazan

Produced By – Columbia Pictures Corporation, Horizon Pictures

Distributed By – Columbia Pictures

Description – Johnny Friendly is the mob-connected boss of the docks. He rules with an iron hand and is known by the police to be responsible for a number of murders. However, they can prove nothing as any and all witnesses are “deaf and dumb.”

Terry Malloy was an aspiring boxer with potential, that is until he throws a fight so Friendly can make a killing betting of Terry’s opponent. The request to throw the fight came from Terry’s brother Charley, who just happens to be Johnny Friendly’s lawyer.

Terry is considered by Friendly as being somewhat simpleminded and now tends pigeons and runs errands for the boss of the docks. One of those errands was to lure a popular dockworker into an ambush where the dockworker is murdered to prevent him from testifying before the Crime Commission.

Although he regrets his participation in the killing, Terry also chooses to remain quiet until he meets the victim’s sister Edie. Terry is immediately attracted to Edie and learns that she and Father Barry are trying to do something about the conditions on the waterfront.

Another worker steps forward against the union and mob boss agreeing to testify with the full support of Father Barry. He too winds up dead.

Terry’s conscience begins to torment him and he is starting to consider testifying himself. This possibility is perceived by Friendly and he orders Terry’s brother Charley to silence Terry, or Terry’s will be the next body to be found on the waterfront.

NOTABLE: On The Waterfront won an amazing eight Academy Awards that include Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Eva Marie Saint), Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Film Editing. Additional nominations included Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Lee J. Cobb), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Rod Steiger), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Karl Malden), and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

In 1989, On The Waterfront was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

This motion picture was based on a series of articles in the New York Sun that received the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting.

In one scene Marlon Brando watches a ship on the Hudson River. The ship was the Italian oceanliner The Andrea Doria which would sink after a collision in the Atlantic Ocean in 1956.

The role of Terry Malloy was originally written for actor John Garfield who died before the picture could be made. Frank Sinatra was also considered for the role.

Three of Johnny Friendly’s thugs were played by Tony Galento, Abe Simon, and Tami Mauriello. All three were once professional fighters and all fought Joe Louis.

Actress Grace Kelly was offered, and turned down, the role of Edie Doyle choosing instead to star in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.

On The Waterfront is ranked as #8 on the American Film Institutes’s list of 100 Years…100 Movies.

Marlon Brando’s work as Terry Malloy is ranked #2 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.

The American Film Institute ranks this film as the 19th Greatest Movie of All Time.

Personal Note: This is a tough, reality based look at mob corruption on the New York waterfront. A true motion picture classic with outstanding performances that will forever be considered one of the greatest films ever.


Kansas City Confidential

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Kansas City Confidential

Tagline – Every city wears a mask! This is the picture that goes behind that mask to bare the bullet-scarred face of a brutal underworld!

Starring – John Payne (Joe Rolfe), Coleen Gray (Helen Foster), Preston Foster (Tim Foster), Neville Brand (Boyd Kane), Lee Van Cleef (Tony Romano).

Released – November, 1952

Directed By – Phil Karlson

Produced By – Associated Players & Producers

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – Joe Rolfe is an ex-GI, and an ex-con, who has just been violently interrogated by the police. Working as a delivery driver for a flower company, it seems Joe is being framed for a million dollar armored truck robbery.

Temporarily released due to a lack of evidence, Joe sets out to clear his name. The clues he turns up take him to a fishing resort in a small town in Mexico. There’s not much else to go on as the real culprits who committed the crime wore masks and even they don’t know what the others look like.

A nice little crime caper with a few surprises.

NOTABLE: Some believe that Kansas City Confidential played a role in inspiring Quentin Tarantino’s excellent crime drama Reservoir Dogs.

The $1.2M stolen from the bank would be the equivalent of almost $10,750,000 in 2015.


Detective Story

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Detective Story (1951)

Tagline – The love story of a man whose wife was more woman than angel!

Starring – Kirk Douglas (Det. Jim McLeod), Eleanor Parker (Mary McLeod), William Bendix (Det. Lou Brody), Cathy O’Donnell (Susan Carmichael), George Macready (Dr. Karl Schneider), Horace McMahon (Lt. Monaghan).

Released – November, 1951

Directed By – William Wyler

Produced By – Paramount Pictures

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – A day in the life of the N.Y.C. 21st precinct detective squad, and their ongoing battle with the city’s low-life. Police Detective Jim McLeod is obsessed with bringing abortionist Dr. Karl Schneider to justice, and his investigation uncovers a painful secret that threatens his marriage.

Also passing through the precinct on this day will be an attractive young embezzler, a naive and frightened shoplifter, and a pair of burglars; one of which will go on to become a murderer before the day is over.

NOTABLE: Detective Story was nominated for four Oscar’s: Best Director (Wyler), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Eleanor Parker), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Lee Grant), and Best Writing, Screenplay.

This was actress Lee Grant’s first film role, and her last before being blacklisted as a result of the paranoia during the investigations by the House on Un-American Activities Committee during the 1950’s. She would resume, what was a very distinguished acting career, in the 1960’s.

Personal Comment: This movie was based on the stage play of the same name, and was filmed with the ‘stage play’ feel still intact. A strong and intense performance by Kirk Douglas who worked surrounded by an excellent supporting cast playing an outstanding variety of characters. Take note of the great job done by Joseph Wiseman as one of the two burglar’s who becomes a murderer.

The Enforcer

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

The Enforcer [Blu-ray]

Tagline – If you’re smart you’ll come down…if you’re dumb you’ll be dead…

Starring – Humphrey Bogart (District Attorney Martin Ferguson), Zero Mostel (Big Babe Lazik), Ted de Corsia (Joseph Rico), Everett Sloane (Albert Mendoza).

Released – February, 1951

Directed By – Bretaigne Windust

Produced By – United States Pictures

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – This film is loosely based on the real-life Murder, Inc. trials, and takes place mainly in flashback. District Attorney Ferguson works tirelessly in his efforts to break up a murder-for-hire gang, but has one particularly large problem.

Gang boss Albert Mendoza has a bad habit of killing anyone who even hints at testifying against him. Just when it looks like the D.A. might finally be able to make his case, with the help of underworld informer Joseph Rico, the informer falls to his death.

Now, it’s back to square-one with time running out.

NOTABLE: Director Windust, a noted Broadway director, fell ill during the making of The Enforcer and was helped by Raoul Walsh who was brought in to complete the job. Walsh was not interested in receiving any credit, feeling that this was Windust’s film.

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The whole blistering story of the crimson-stained career of Ralph Cotter, thug with a heart…of ice!

Starring – James Cagney (Ralph Cotter), Barbara Payton (Holiday Carleton), Helena Carter (Margaret Dobson), Ward Bond (Inspector Charles Weber), Luther Adler (Keith ‘Cherokee’ Mandon, Barton MacLane (Lt. John Reese).

Released – August, 1950

Directed By – Gordon Douglas

Produced By – William Cagney Productions

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – After escaping prison, ruthless gangster Ralph Cotter murders his former partner in crime.  Returning to a life of crime, Ralph is immediately successful until running into a couple of corrupt cops who intend to shake him down.

A classic B gangster movie, violent and fact-paced as only Cagney can do it.

NOTABLE: Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye was banned in Ohio where they felt it was “a sordid presentation of brutality and an extreme presentation of crime with explicit steps in commission.”

This film was produced by James Cagney’s brother William.