Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger,
“I coulda had class,” says failed fighter Terry Malloy with all the bruised brilliance Marlon Brando could muster. Maybe so, but On the Waterfront did have class—class acting, class writing, class cinematography, and class warfare. Controversial for its allegations of corruption in the longshoremen’s union, the production itself was chock-full of friendly witnesses at the HUAC hearings, director Kazan, writer Budd Schulberg, and actor Lee J. Cobb among them. Still, Brando’s damaged dockworker, deserted by his brother (Rod Steiger) and vigorously defended by Father Barry (Karl Malden), stands as a memorable Method performance amid a coarse realism drafted by that left-leaning lenser Boris Kaufman.