Black SplatOn the Waterfront (1954)

"I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am."

On the Waterfront - Charley Malloy and hsi brother Terry in a taxi.

Description: Marlon Brando as ex-boxer Terry Malloy speaking to his brother, Charley (Rod Steiger) in the classic motion picture On the Waterfront (1954).

Terry Malloy works as a stevedore on the docks near New York City. When he witnesses two union thugs kill a guy by throwing ho off a rooftop, he feels conscience stricken to reveal this information to the authorities, but remains loyal to the mob and his brother Charley, who works for Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), the ruthless union boss.

Later, Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), the sister of the murdered man and Father Barry (Karl Malden), a local Catholic priest try to convince Terry to do the right thing and testify to the state commission:

"Isn't it simple as one, two, three? One: The working conditions are bad. Two: They're bad because the mob does the hiring. And three: The only way we can break the mob is to stop letting them get away with murder....Some people think the Crucifixion only took place on Calvary. They better wise up! 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 pressure on a good man, tries to stop him from doing his duty as a citizen, it's a crucifixion. And anybody who sits around and lets it happen, keeps silent about something he knows that happened, shares the guilt of it just as much as the Roman soldier who pierced the flesh of our Lord to see if he was dead."

As Terry decides to give testimony that will implicate Johnny in the murder, his brother Charley is ordered to deliver his brother into the hands of Johnny's executioners As they ride to their destination in a taxicab, Terry reminisces with his brother, Charley whose wheeling and dealing prevented Terry from having a legitimate shot in the boxing game.

“Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, ‘Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.’ You remember that? This ain’t your night! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.”

Charley rationalizes, “Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.” But Terry hits home with the truth: “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.”

At the last minute, Charley decides to help his brother and gives him a gun before his exits the cab. The cabdriver, overhearing Charley, rats him out to Johnny and soon after Charley is killed as well as all of Terry's pigeons that he kept on the roof of his home. Infuriated Terry goes to the docks and tells Johnny off.

"You think you're God Almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin' mug! And I'm glad what I done to you, ya hear that? I'm glad what I done!"

Terry goads Johnny into a fight, but when it looks like Johnny is losing, his thugs jump into the fight and savagely beat Terry in front of all of the men on the docks. Johnny then insists that his men get back to work. When Johnny manhandles one of the workers, the man pushes back and knocks Johnny into the water.

On the Waterfront - Johnny gets beaten by thugs

Although brutally beaten, Terry gets up and shows the men he will no longer support Johnny's corrupt regime. Glad to see Johnny and his goons defeated, the rest of the longshoreman go back to work unloading supplies from the latest ship to dock at the pier.

On the Waterfront - Movie Poster

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