Friday, June 19, 2009

Must-Watch Friday - On the Waterfront

Modern Heat author Heidi Rice goes all retro and comes up with a ground-breaking story of labour relations on the New Jersey docks which also happens to have a powerful, poignant and provocative romance at it's heart featuring Marlon Brando in his prime and the beautiful Eva Marie Saint. 

All right I'll admit it, I wasn't originally planning to do my favourite film as a Pink Heart movie because it ain't exactly a chick flick. I actually had Dirty Dancing all keyed up and ready to go - with a great blog about bad boys, curly perms, young love, Patrick Swayze's naked chest and 'not keeping Baby in a corner', etc - only to discover that Ally Blake had beaten me to it three years ago!!

So, with a great big hole to fill and no time to watch another movie I decided to push the envelope a bit and go with a now little seem black and white social drama that I absolutely adore - I can still quote whole scenes of dialogue from it (because I'm a bit nerdy like that). It's not a romance, but it has at its centre a love story that is so real and so beautifully evoked in only a few scenes it's bound to touch your hear. Plus it's performed by surely the greatest film actor of all time (long before he became the size of a small semi-detached house) and an actress who is not only luminously lovely but also sadly underrated IMHO.

Now, as it happens their love story takes place in only a few keys scenes so I'm going to dwell on those and not the rest of the movie (although that's pretty spectacular - anyone ever heard of Brando's 'I coulda been a contenda' speech? That comes from this multi-Oscar-winner too).

So let's do a quick plot recap. The setting is the New Jersey Docks in the 1950s, where the longshoreman's union is controlled by corrupt thug Johnny Friendly and his right-hand man Charlie the Gent. Charlie's younger brother Terry (a thirtysomething has-been ex-boxer) has been inadvertently involved in the killing of Joey, one of the longshoreman who was threatening to squeal to the crime commission. Terry feels bad about it, but that's life on the docks. He's not about to rat out his brother. Until he meets Joey's sister Edie....

The drama is about Terry's battle with his conscience, and the harsh life of America's dock workers... It's social realism through and through with a cast full of brilliant method actors, a wonderfully understated script by Budd Schulberg and haunting black and white photography... But it's the developing relationship between Edie and Terry that drives the story and is the heart and soul of the whole movie.

From their first meeting, when the rough, raw and inarticulate Terry tugs on Edie's glove and sits on a kids swing while chatting to her with off-hand bravado about his miserable childhood.. And Edie responds with quiet class and a gentle naivete, which isn't really naivete at all - but the simple belief that if people are loved they can rise above their circumstances...

To the scene in a dingy neighbourhood bar where Terry (not knowing what to do with a nice girl) takes Edie on a sort of date:

Edie says, a little drunk: 'Shouldn't everyone care about everyone else?' 
And Terry replies: 'Boy, what a fruitcake you are.' 

But as he says it, the tender astonishment in Terry's eyes shows he's already falling in love with this girl who's sweet and innocent, but has the strength of character to rise above the roughness of slum life rather than be beaten down by it as Terry has been.  

Then there's the powerful, intensely dramatic and heartbreaking moment when Terry finally confesses his involvement in Joey's murder to Edie. We don't hear the words, they're drowned out by a ship's blaring horn, but we see Edie's face, going from love to horror....

And then the wildly passionate and provocative scene when Terry breaks into Edie's apartment and they kiss... I defy anyone not to be blown away by this kiss:

Okay, so this movie doesn't have Patrick Swayze's sweaty pecs to recommend it. But it's got everything else. And maybe it's not one to watch during a Girl's Night In, but it's definitely worth a peak if you like your romance occasionally raw and realistic and heart-breakingly honest. Plus Brando in this movie is absolutely gorgeous (but then I do have a soft spot for bad boys).

Heidi's latest Modern Heat, Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal is available now in the UK and due out in September in the US. 

Look out for the linked story Public Affair, Secretly Expecting in November in the UK. And also a great offer to download a free ebook copy of her Waldies topper Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition starting this July on the M&B website.

She loves to hear from readers through her website or on her blog, where she can often be found waffling on about an author's life or her bad boy obsession and frequently both.


  1. Yes, the young Brando was goregous!
    And I do agree that sometimes the power of raw emotion can really carry. On the Waterfront is agreat movie.

  2. Cheers Michelle.

    I love it and every time I watch it again I see something new in the performances. Method acting has taken a bit of a kicking over the years, but in a film like this it works so well.

  3. Another one I haven't seen -- must make a list of Heidi's recommendations and spend the weekend watching them.

  4. Ahh Kim, you sweetheart, let's hope it doesn't turn out to be the most boring weekend of your life... But seriously, you'll love this move, if you have a soft spot for Bad Boys and Brando, like I do.

  5. Miss Heidi what a distractor you are - brilliant for when you're facing what seems to be a quicksand mile wide swamp of revisions...! What a gorgeous kiss, so passionate..
    xx Abby Green

  6. Cheers Abby, thanks for popping in! see I told you it would be inspiring. Nothing like a good snog to get your revs off to a great start.