Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On the Waterfront

With the death a couple of weeks ago of Budd Schulberg, screenwriter for On the Waterfront and other well-known classic movies, I decided I needed to watch it. Like many I've probably seen the famous "I coulda been a contenda!" taxi scene with Rod Steiger and Marlon Brando many times. But I could not recall ever having watched the entire movie. So I checked out my local library's DVD.

It took me two nights to watch but I finished up last night. I think it still holds up although film-making and acting have changed a lot in 50+ years. The story became more interesting when I learned that Mr. Schulberg was one of those who "named names" back in the post WWII days when Congress and others were looking for anyone with Communist sympathies or leanings. Perhaps this was Schulberg's way of saying "Sometimes it's OK to name names. If the greater good is served, even if someone gets hurt."

One odd observation - Leonard Bernstein (of future fame for West Side story among other things) was the composer of the film score. As talented as he was, it seemed like someone just told him, we need some music, make it almost wall-to-wall and occasionally punch it up to stir the emotions. I could get past the editing, a few quirky things, stiffer acting etc. but never could quite get past the soundtrack. It seemed intrusive to me.

but now I can scratch this one off my list. It doesn't displace any of my favorite old movies.

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