On The Waterfront marked the second collaboration between director Elia Kazan and his leading man Marlon Brando, following on from 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire. It was also the second instant classic. The film focuses on union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen, while detailing widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey. While the story is drawn from a series of articles published in November–December 1948 in the New York Sun which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, the screenplay by Budd Schulberg developed real events into one of Hollywood’s most powerful moral tales. Kazan’s intentions have been widely discussed in his use of the story as a thinly veiled analogy for the House of Un-American Activities and Hollywood Blacklist, a period which had seen communist witch hunts destroying the livelihoods of many people in the industry and creating a toxic atmosphere for political discourse in the cinema of ‘the land of the free’ that has lived with Hollywood ever since. In 1989, On the Waterfront was one of the first 25 films to be deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
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Welcome to the Film and TV Society’s regular Thursday screening for the 2020/21 academic year! Discussion will follow each film over zoom, a great space for discussing your ideas. Alternatively, treat the discussion like a podcast and just sit back to listen to other students’ thoughts.
The stream will begin a few minutes before the start of the screening.