ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) summary:
Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) once dreamt of being a great prize fighter, but now works at the docks of Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) , the corrupt boss of the dockers union. He witnesses a murder by a couple of Johnny's thugs, but won't betray Friendly, who is both his brother's (Rod Steiger) boss and a long-time friend of his family.
What he sees at the docks repulses Terry. In an economically depressed environment in which many are out of work, more gather by the docks each morning hoping to secure work for that day than can be hired, placing Johnny Friendly and his forces in a position to exploit them. Those who complain of the working conditions or wages one day don't work the next day, or are placed in harm's way. Consequently, most tolerate being abused.
After befriending both the sister (Eva Marie Saint) of the murdered man and the local priest (Karle Malden), Terry gradually becomes a man of deeper morality, and starts to speak of acts against Friendly, who will soon go on trial. Terry finds his breaking point when his brother is murdered by Friendly's thugs, and causes him to entertain thoughts of testifying against Friendly. Still, he struggles to find the courage to do so, until the priest persuades him to.
Once he betrays Friendly, Terry is without the work that always came his way when he and his brother were trusted and valued associates. Still, he confronts Friendly by the docks and when all the dock workers are witness to the brutal beating of Terry by Friendly, they refuse to work unless Terry is also allowed to work. This is the catalyst for a new tone of understanding between the workers and the dock bosses.
Terry had neither wanted nor intended to be a hero, but, as a man of principle, he had become not only a hero, but a symbol of the workers' intolerance of exploitation by the dock bosses.
THE GODFATHER (1972)summary:
The superb, three-part gangster saga was inaugurated with this film from Italian-American director Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather. The first two parts of the lush and grand saga are among the most celebrated, landmark films of all time. Many film reviewers consider the second part equal or superior to the original, although the first part was a tremendous critical and commercial success - and the highest grossing film of its time. This mythic, tragic film contributed to a resurgence in the American film industry, after a decade of competition from cinema abroad.
One of the original "Movie Brats" who had not had a hit after seven films, director Coppola collaborated on the epic film's screenplay with Mario Puzo who had written a best-selling novel of the same name about a Mafia dynasty (the Corleones). The Godfather catapulted Francis Ford Coppola to directorial superstardom, and popularized the following euphemistic phrase (of brutal coercion): "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
The almost three hour, R-rated saga film (for violence and graphic language) won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando refused to accept the award) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola). The other seven nominations included three for Best Supporting Actor (James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino), Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design. One of The Godfather's original eleven nominations was removed, Best Music (Original Dramatic Score), when it was determined that Nino Rota's score had been used for a previous film.
Gangster films are one of the oldest of film genres (starring Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart), emerging as an influential force in the early 1930s (e.g., Little Caesar (1930), Public Enemy (1931), and Scarface (1932)). This gangster film re-invented the gangster genre, elevating the classic Hollywood gangster film to a higher level by portraying the gangster figure as a tragic hero. [With the disappearance of the Production Code, retribution for the gangster's crimes was not an automatic requirement.] The rich and enthralling film is characterized by superb acting and deep character studies, beautiful photography and choreography, authentic recreation of the period, a bittersweet romantic sub-plot, a rich score by Nino Rota, and superbly-staged portrayals of gangster violence. Its grim, dark passages and bright exterior scenes are all part of the beautiful cinematography by Gordon Willis. (Source: Filmsite.org)
Posted: January 10, 2012