On The WaterfrontScene by Scene Directed by Elia Kazan
Scene 1 – On the Waterfront • Opening shots set the scene for the film. • Soundtrack – forewarns the audience that something sinister is about to take place. • The office of local 374 – compared to the large ship on the right of the screen – visual representation that Johnny Friendly’s power is minute compared to those he serves. • Members of Johnny’s gang emerge – expensive looking care
Terry’s lack of power and status is highlighted • The image dissolves into a high angle shot of the high rise tenement buildings that make up the working class neighbourhood • Drumbeat escalates – an event looming • We are witness to Terry’s treachery as he lures Joey to his rooftop. • The camera pans upwards and we are provided with a low angle shot of two of Jonny’s henchmen on the roof – emphasising theeminent danger • Joey trusts Terry • Terry lets the bird go as the music reaches a climax. • Joey’s comment of having to watch himself hints at the fear.
Scene 2 – Joey’s Fall • Outside Friendly’s bar – Charley and two other thugs are waiting. • As Terry joins his brothers – there is suspense in the music • Low angle – we hear a scream and watch as a body falls from the roof. • We discover that Joey was going to “sing to the crime commission”. • Terry had no knowledge of the plans on the roof “the worst they were gonna do was lean on him a little bit.” • Jonny the boss – control. • The joke “Maybe he could sing, but he couldn’t fly’, is juxtaposed with Terry’s concern and guilt = highlighting his awareness of the immorality. • Thugs push past Terry – emphasising the lack of power • The camera lingers of Terry – showcasing his unease – Charley offering to buy him a drink. • Mrs Collins “same thing happened to my Andy five years ago.” Community fear. • Joey “was the only longshoreman that had the guts to talk to the crime investigators” – motive for murder • Corruption – crime to flourish in the neighbourhood – ineffectual legal system, isolation – Pop Doyle’s refusal to speak “feel about cops”
Edie’s question “who’d want to kill Joey?” – determined to find the killer – drives the narrative. • Clear loyalty to her brother – don’t cover his body with newspaper “Stay away from him” • Father Barry “time and faith” “great heelers” – Edie wants answers. • Father Barry – comfortable in the church – he is challenged by Edie “Did you ever hear of a saint hiding in a church?” • Terry spits on the ground – lack of refinement. • “Keep quiet, you’ll live longer, aligns silence with survival.
Scene 3 – On the inside • Back room of Friendly’s bar – noise and smoke fill the screen. • Johnny bemoans the fact that “there’s nobody tough anymore.” – values physical strength and toughness. Ironic as he insists on controlling those around him and getting rid of those who stand up to him. • Johnny refers to Terry warmly “slugger” “kid” – fondness • Johnny’s corruption – loans, sheet metal, demands respect (take the cigar out when he speaks) • Trust to Terry – count the money – public demonstration • Jonny goes to Terry’s defence – Big Mac makes fun of him • A previous fight – Terry was tough – reinforces Terry’s position as being values and unusual. “our boy” • Johnny – manhandling of Terry – physical power • Charley – understands how the world works – prevent Terry from getting into fights • Resilience and determination if you are going to succeed in the world “had to keep his hand over his throat to stay alive and he still went after them” • Provokes a sense of sympathy – Johnny’s upbringing • Joey Doyle “lousy cheese-eater” “bum” – stark contrast to the description offered by Edie. • Terry’s struggle with his conscience momentarily overrides any fear he may have of Johnny “figured he should have been told” – conscience triumphs over fear. • Johnny – volatile temper – attack on Skins. Skin’s expulsion highlights Johnny’s ruthlessness – contrast of his generosity towards Terry.
Terry is reluctant to accept money – simple needs, lack of ambition. • Moral dilemma – Charley warns Terry not to forget the “friend” in Johnny. – Charley – parental role. • Scene ends with ‘pay day’ – reflecting how all of them are part of the corruption. • The horn of a ship sounds – symbolising the waterfront and the impact of the corruption on those who earn their living in a harsh place. • Tommy finds Terry alone on the rooftop. Terry envies the simple life of the pigeons “eating, sleeping, flying around like crazy, raising gobs of squabs.” – Simple desires. Terry has a softness within his rough exterior “catching cold.” • On the pier – siren sounds and Big Mac emerges. The camera moves behind him – we see the enormous number of men who approach – their pay. Strength and desperation – Pop Doyle (death of his son). • Brotherhood – willing to help each other despite their own hardships. “Joey’s windbreaker”, passing on of coat. • Dugan’s remarks about Johnny “great labour leader.” “poorer now than when I started” • People willing to defy social conventions and risk their own safety and security in order to act in accordance with their own moral code.
Scene 4 – The Shape Up • Crime commission investigators – resistance. • Terry had promise in the boxing ring. • Terry refuses to meet the investigators’ eyes “I don’t know nothing” – adherence to the code of “D ‘n’ D.” • JP – Johnny’s banker – forced loans “if we don’t borrow, we don’t work.” Lack of care and sensitivity. • Edie arrives on the pier – coincides with the blowing of the whistle. Father Berry’s presence reinforces his genuine desire to help – Edie’s comments have struck a chord with him. • Medium close-up on Big Mac’s face – eyes roam the crowd – the power he holds over these men. • The crowd of men turn on Mac – music signals desperation. • Terry and Edie dance. Edie is Joey Doyle’s sister – respect from Terry. • “This is my parish, I don’t know how much I can do, but I’;; never find out unless I come down here and take a good look for myself.”
Scene 5 – The Union Explained • “The waterfront is tougher….like it ain’t part of America.” • Fearful of standing up for themselves. • “Johnny Johnny and his cowboys” – taken over the union that is meant to provide protection. • The basement of the church is offered as a safe place. • “Is this all you do, just take it like this.”
Scene 6 - Safety • Ship’s loft – Terry reading, enjoying the ‘cushy’ job. • Johnny Friendly needs Terry to keep an eye on the meeting. • Friendly’s omnipresent (always there) power. • “Stooling is when you rat on your friend.” – Charley • “Break the mob” – Father Barry’s meeting – they know “who killed Joey Doyle.” • Unchristian to not speak out. • Terry’s presence is not welcomed – Dugan – Terry’s connection with Johnny. • “On the dock we’ve always been D and D… deaf and dumb. No mater how much we hate the torpedoes, we don’t rat.” – barrier. A moral struggle of “right against… wrong.” Father Barry’s naivety.
Scene 7 – The Mob Attacks • Church meeting ends – henchmen attack – intimidation. • The pace of the music reflects the frantic fear of the men inside the church and the aggression of the attackers. • Edie ends up being assisted by Terry – shots of them managing to get out are intercut with images of the longshoremen being beaten. • Father Barry rescues Dugan “stand up.” • Father Barry – advocate “You stand up and I’ll stand up with you.”
Scene 8 – In the Park • “Juicehead” who declares Doyle a “saint, the only one who ever tried to get me compensation”, revealing the history of standing up to those in power. • Terry is referred to as a “bum” – how they feel about him. Terry doubts himself – maybe he does fit this description. • Edie’s ambition is to be a teacher. She is gentle and gracious. Terry admires brains. Terry is awkward. • “Which side are you with?” • “Me? I’m with me, Terry.”
Scene 9 – Father and Daughter • Doyle’s apartment – Pop has packed Edie’s belongings – sending her back to Saint Anne’s. He is concerned about her growing relationship with Terry and wants to protect her from the harsh world. Pop is determined to give her the best life, Edie saves vulnerable creatures. • “Edie, for years your mom and me put quarters in the cookie jar to keep you up there with the sisters and keep you from things like I’ve just seen outside the window.”
Scene 10 – On the Rooftop • Edie meets Terry and some of the Golden Warriors. It is revealed that Terry has been looking after Joey’s pigeons – guilt? • He Awkwardly attempts to charm her – making the egg disappear. • Invitation for a beer – her first – different people, different worlds. • “You know the city is full of hawks? They hand around on top of big hotels. They spot a pigeon in the park, right down on them.”
Philosophies of Life • Terry reveals some of his past to Edie over drinks – they share their philosophies of life. • Edie is an advocate of social responsibility and looking after others. • Terry’s life has led him to focus on survival. • Terry feels for his prize-fighting career. • Terry is suspicious of Father Barry – everybody has a ‘racket.” • He is beginning to reveal signs of paranoia, reflecting the guilt of Joey’s murder. • Edie pleas “help me if you can for God’s sake.” can’t break him down. • She believes he would help “if you could” – this pains Terry – he knows he can.
Scene 12 - Discoveries • Edie needs Terry to help her escape again – the wedding. • They dance and nearly kiss – interrupted by one of Johnny’s men – summoning Terry. • Terry refuses to leave Edie – insisting on walking her home. • Subpoena for Terry – determined to not “to eat cheese.” • His struggle is beginning to show. • Terry tries to convince Edie to place her own safety first – justice for her brother. She realises who is behind his murder. • “It was Johnny Friendly who had Joey killed, wasn’t it? • “Pop said Johnny Friendly used to own you. Well, I think he still owns you. No wonder everybody calls you a bum.”
Scene 13 – Wise Up! • Dark – Friendly’s car screeched up next to Terry. Revealing he knows that Dugan has made a statement – testifying against him – corruption. • Charley trying to shield his brother – fatherly role. • Johnny wants Terry to stay away from Edie unless they are both “tired of living.” • “We got to do something to muzzle this Dugan or he’ll raise the biggest stink this town’s ever seen. We got the best muscle on the waterfront. The time to use it is now.”
Scene 14 – The crucification • High angle shot – Terry unloading boxes – he is powerless. • “The good Lord takes care of us all the time”. • Dugan is killed
Scene 15 – The Sermon • Father Barry compares the death of the men willing to stand up to the mob to crucifixions. • He believes religion is needed on the waterfront the most. • Terry is transforming – he punches Tuillo to prevent him from further disrespecting Father Barry. • Edie looks for Terry to give him Joey’s jacket – speak up against corruption. They embrace. • :Taking Joey Doyle’s life to stop him from testifying is a crucifixion. And dropping a sling on Kayo Dugan because he was ready to spill his guts tomorrow, that’s a crucifixion. And every time the mob puts the crusher on a good man, tried to stop him from doing his duty as a citizen, it’s a crucifixion.”
Scene 16 - Confession • Terry reveals to Father Barry that he was the one who “set Joey Doyle up for the knock-off”. • Father Barry encourages Terry – reveal the truth to Edie. • “If I spill, my life ain’t worth a nickel.” • “And how much is your soul worth if you don’t.”
Scene 17 – Deaf and Dumb • Terry confesses to Edie – it is drowned out by a steam whistle – extreme close-up of Edie’s pained face which is half hidden behind her gloves (white) – innocence is being shattered. She runs away.
Scene 18 – The Truth • Detective Glover makes his way to Terry’s roof and Terry reveals that he threw his last fight – unfilled talent. • Charley defending his brother Johnny • Charley must assure Terry’s silence or bring him to be killed. • “When those guys want to win a bet, there’s nothing they won’t stop at.”
Scene 19 – The Car Ride • Charley picks up Terry – they discuss the choice. • Terry is offered a lucrative offer “boss loader” “have to lift a finger.” If he doesn’t testify. • Moral struggle • Drawing of a pistol – desperation to get Terry to do what Johnny wants. • Charley experiences guilt – lets Terry go. • “I could have had class! I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody. Instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let’s face it. It was you Charley.”
Scene 20 – Calling Terry • Terry breaks into Edie’s apartment to tell her his feelings. • There is a voice outside beckoning Terry to see his brother. • Terry and Edie go out into the street. • The music from scene 1 is replayed – signaling that another crucifixion has taken place. • Terry and Edie run from a speeding truck – glass pane is broken with hand. • They find a place of shelter. • Edie’s costume has changed – normally conservative (naivety), in this scene her femininity is accentuated.
Scene 21 - Sacrifice • Emerging from the shelter – Terry can see his brother hanging from a hook – his coat ruined by gunshots and blood. • Edie begs Terry to think of physical survival and Terry knows he has to do something. • Terry walks off – gun – wants revenge for this murder.
Scene 22 – Power Through Truth • Terry at a low angle – not seen often – this reveals his lack of fear – he now feels power. • Terry goes to the bar to find Johnny – Father Barry convinces him that killing someone isn’t being brave – instead he needs to tell the truth. • Terry throws the gun at the picture of Johnny and Mr Upstairs – shattering the glass. • Terry now holds the power to shatter Johnny’s powerful relationships. • “You want to hurt Johnny Friendly?....For what he did to Charley and a dozen other en who are better than Charley? The don’t fight him like a hoodlum down here in the jungle. Because that’s just what he wants. He’ll hit you in the head and plead self-defence. You’ll fight him in the courtroom tomorrow with the truth.”
Scene 23 – The Courtroom • Local 374 is on trial – there is background laughter – indicating it is not going well. • Terry’s testimony is vital. • Big Mac takes the stand – can’t produce financial records “we was robbed” – mockery of the legal system – they need Terry. • Cameras, flashes, reporters – the public. • Edie, Father Barry, Pop Doyle sit waiting for Terry’s testimony. • Terry’s lack of worldliness – inability to respond to the courtroom protocols. • We go from inside the courtroom to Mr Upstairs private residence – watching the proceedings on TV. • Terry’s testimony will impact Johnny – Mr Upstairs rejects Johnny. • “You’ve begun to make it possible for honest men to work the docks with job security and peace of mind.”
Scene 24 – The Aftermath • Rooftop – Terry wishes to escape from his confusing world. • Terry encounters Tommy who throws a dead pigeon at Terry (his old hero). He has killed many to get at Terry. • Edie fears for Terry’s life when he decides to go down to the shape-up “and get my rights.” • Johnny’s growing anxiety. • “Everybody works” at the pier except Terry – he is rejected for his treachery. • “A pigeon for a pigeon.” - Traitor • “They always said I was a bum. Well I ain’t a bum, Edie.”
Scene 25 – The final Confrontation • Terry is frustrated by his treatment. • Terry approaches the local office – calls for Johnny to come out. • They exchange words in front of longshoremen. • Terry is satisfied with his decision. • “You ratted on us, Terry.” • “From where you stand, maybe. But I’m standing here now!”
Scene 26 – Fighting like he used to • Resorting to physical violence – still in him. • A fight between Terry and Johnny – choreographed. • Johnny’s thugs join in – unable to maintain power without assistance. • Father Barry and Edie arrive – Terry is lying on the river’s edge. • Big Mac’s whistle no longer holds the power it once had over then men. • Johnny has lost his power – pushed in the river by Pop. • “You want him? You can have him! The little rat’s yours.” • “How bout Terry.” • “He don’t work, we don’t work.”
Scene 27 – The Walk • Terry walks unaided to the end of the pier – solidarity (unity). • He is in pain – camera switches between front on shots of Terry and point-of view shots – disorientated. • Johnny “I’ll be back.” • “If Terry walks in, we walk in with him.” • “You lost the battle, but you have a chance to win the war.”