Director: Elia Kazan
Stars: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb
Plot: Terry Malloy dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny's thugs, and later meets the dead man's sister and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry, who tries to force him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.
As part of his contract, Marlon Brando only worked till 4 every day and then he would leave to go see his analyst. Brando's mother had recently died and the conflicted young actor was in therapy to resolve his issues with his parents. Interestingly, for the film's classic scene between Rod Steiger and Brando in the back of the cab, all of Steiger's close-ups were filmed after Brando had left for the day, so his lines were read by one of the crew members. Steiger remained very bitter about that for many years and often mentioned it in interviews.
The scene where Eva Marie Saint drops her glove and Marlon Brando picks it up and puts it on his hand was unplanned. Saint dropped her glove accidentally in rehearsal and Brando improvised the rest. Elia Kazan loved the new business and asked them to repeat it for the take.
Sam Spiegel forgot to pay for rear-projection equipment, hence the reason why the cab where Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger play out the film's most famous scene has blinds.v
In his autobiography, Marlon Brando revealed his initial thoughts about his performance. "On the day (Elia Kazan) showed me the completed picture, I was so depressed by my performance I got up and left the screening room. I thought I was a huge failure, and walked out without a word to him. I was simply embarrassed for myself."
The leading characters were based on real people: Terry Malloy was based on longshoreman and whistle-blower Anthony De Vincenzo; Father Barry was based on waterfront priest John M. Corridan; Johnny Friendly was based on mobster Albert Anastasia.
Arthur Miller was approached by Elia Kazan to write the screenplay, and did so, but later pulled it when the FBI and studio bosses required him to make the gangsters Communists.
Film debuts of Johnny Seven, Michael V. Gazzo, Pat Hingle, Martin Balsam, and Eva Marie Saint. The last gave a debut performance that won her the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
In the scene where Terry (Marlon Brando) and Edie (Eva Marie Saint) are talking on the rooftop of Terry's apartment building, after he finds his pigeons killed, Terry looks off to his left, with the next shot (showing what he's looking at) of the Hudson River and Manhattan in the distance. In that shot, a large ocean liner is seen moving down the Hudson on its way out to sea. The ship is the then new Italian liner Andrea Doria, a little more than two years before it was sunk in a collision with the Swedish liner Stockholm off Martha's Vineyard.