On the Waterfront – Film Screening and Discussion

BISR Central
68 Jay Street, #425
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront swept the Academy Awards in 1955, just a couple of years after his infamous appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, at which he identified former colleagues from New York City’s Group Theatre as erstwhile members of the Communist Party (from which he had only recently broken himself). A watershed moment in American cinema’s emerging realism, On the Waterfront—deemed a “celebration of the informer” by Orson Welles—is also widely understood as Kazan’s allegorical justification for his HUAC testimony. The film, drawing on a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Sun exposé of labor union racketeering, corruption, and extortion on the Hoboken waterfront, follows the (mis)fortunes of former prize-fighter turned longshoreman Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando in a transformative performance), caught between colluding with organized crime or coming clean to the authorities. It also made an indelible impact on cinematic storytelling and movie acting (with Brando as the living instrument of Stanislavski’s “method”), while at the same time capturing a pivotal moment in American history: the slow decline of labor unionism and the imminent rise of deindustrialization, a process that would go on to transform the titular environment. 

Join us Friday, February 2nd, at BISR Central for a screening of On the Waterfront. Before the film, BISR faculty Andy Battle and Jude Webre will examine the film in social, economic, and historical context: What was Kazan’s relationship with the mid-century Hollywood left? What impact did the Red Scare have on this moment in cinematic history? What role does the waterfront play in New York City’s industrial history? What ways of life did dock labor foster—and leave to languish with its decline?

Admission is free with suggested $10 donation, and, as ever, snacks, beer, wine, and seltzer will be served. Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please RSVP below.


Event Schedule

Friday, 7:00pm ET
February 02, 2024


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