Analysis of On the Waterfront Essay

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On the Waterfront is a classic, award-winning and controversial film. It received eight academy-awards in 1954, including best-picture and director. The director, Eliza Kazan, in collaboration with Budd Schulberg wrote the film’s screenplay. Based on actual dockside events in Hoboken, New Jersey, On the Waterfront is a story of a dock worker who tried to overthrow a corrupt union. Marlon Brando superbly portrays the character of Terry Malloy. He is a young ex-prize fighter, now a dock worker given easy jobs because his brother is the right-hand man of the corrupt union boss Johnny Friendly. After Terry unwittingly allows himself to be used in setting up a man’s death, he starts to question the basic assumptions if his life. …show more content…
Since Kazan believed that communism was an evil threat to the American way of life, he tried to portray his decision to testify as a heroic act of valor. He wanted to show the public that a person who testifies is brave, not a coward. Throughout the film there are a number of references to the code of silence, “D n’ D”, or “Deaf and Dumb.” This means that no matter how wretched the circumstances are, a person never rats. The union thugs make a joke about the boy pushed off a building because he threatened to talk to the crime commission, thus breaking the sacred code of D n’ D: “A canary. Maybe he could sing but he couldn’t fly.”

Kazan has one character, in particular, stress the importance of speaking out in life. Father Barry believes that the truth will always set a person free. He says; There’s one thing we’ve got in this country and that’s ways of fightin’ back. Gettin’ facts to the public. Testifying for what you know is right and what you know is wrong. What’s rattin’ to them is telling the truth for you. Can’t you see that? Can’t you see that?

This quotation is an example of Kazan crying out to the public for forgiveness. Later in the film, Kazan tries even harder to gain acceptance, as there is an obvious parallel between his own testimony and Terry Malloy’s.

In the courtroom scene, Terry Malloy turns “stoolie” and betrays Friendly throughout his
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