On the Waterfront (1954): A Poster Gallery

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I’m unapologetically biased when it comes to On the Waterfront (1954). I’m well aware of the controversy surrounding the production but I firmly believe it’s one of the greatest American films of the 1950s and on April 24 and 27 Turner Classic Movies in association with Fathom Events and Sony Pictures Entertainment will be bringing this American classic to theaters across the country for a special two-day event. Both screenings will include an exclusive commentary by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz explaining how the film, which was shot in just 36 days, has had such a long-lasting cultural impact. Tickets are available at the Fathom Events website.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience this powerful and provocative movie on the big screen I highly recommend doing so. You might think you understand what made Marlon Brando such a commanding screen presence but until you’ve had the opportunity to see him strut and fret for more than an hour on the big screen, I don’t think you can fully appreciate what made him a Hollywood trailblazer and acting heavyweight. But don’t just come to watch Brando at his best. There are many more reasons to see On the Waterfront including Elia Kazan’s outstanding direction, Boris Kaufman’s moody black and white cinematography, Budd Schulberg’s potent script, Leonard Bernstein’s compelling score and a top-notch cast of supporting players that include Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger and Lee J. Cobb firing on all-cylinders while delivering some of their finest screen work.

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The advertisements for the April event (pictured at the top of this post) include art from the original movie posters so I thought I’d compile an assortment of posters from around the world that were created to sell the film to audiences in the 1950s. The selection includes posters from our neighbors in Mexico as well as some outstanding examples from Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Spain and Argentina. All the posters put Brando’s character, the washed-up prizefighter Terry Malloy, at the center of the drama but there are subtle differences in the design that emphasize the film’s central conflict, romance or action depending on the country where they originated. I hope the results will inspire you to join fellow film lovers this month when they fill local theaters to revisit this timeless classic and winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

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U.S. & Britain

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Mexico

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Argentina

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Spain

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Italy

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France

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Japan

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Danish

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Germany

 

8 Responses On the Waterfront (1954): A Poster Gallery
Posted By Lyndell : April 21, 2016 5:35 pm

After watching films for sixty years, one of the most compelling lines on-screen for me is Brando’s “I coulda’ been a contender.” It still makes my heart hurt just thinking about it.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : April 21, 2016 6:28 pm

You’ve got about 10 years on me, Lyndell but I couldn’t agree more. That scene always makes my heart heavy.

Posted By robbushblog : April 21, 2016 6:50 pm

I’ll be there Sunday afternoon. I’m taking my nephew. He fell asleep when I showed it to him at his house years ago. Now that I’m paying for it, he better stay awake.

If you can’t make i to the theater, you should definitely check out the Criterion Blu-ray. It is wonderful!

Posted By Emgee : April 21, 2016 7:29 pm

Watching Brando in this movie you can forgive him all the overacting and weird temper tantrums with which he derailed several movies.

Still, I come to praise Brando, not to bury him. His performance here is stunning.

As are these posters, especially the German examples.

Posted By Ben Martin : April 21, 2016 8:28 pm

I love the poster designs that incorporate the hook in the foreground and Terry walking toward us with a gun in his hand behind. Wow.
The taxi scene is great and of course gets well deserved attention but watch Brando’s awkward flirting with Eva Marie Saint in the bar. Wow. Yes, i do think this Brando’s acting here is as fine as anything ever before or since in an American film.
My son always wants to fast forward through the Karl Malden scenes just like he always wants to fast forward through Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany s. Thinks they grind the film to a halt and through it off-kilter.

Posted By AL : April 21, 2016 10:43 pm

How could the Academy overlook Bernstein’s magnificent score ?

Posted By Autist : April 22, 2016 8:57 am

Because the Oscars are a joke.

Posted By Kenneth A Heller : April 22, 2016 8:00 pm

How ABOUT that Herman Munster!!?? What ACTING!

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