Friday, August 12, 2016


Posted by Bob, aka Robert Klitzkie

"Charlie: Look, kid, I - how much you weigh, son? When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.
Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront
Terry: It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. 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 in 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.

Charlie: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.

Terry: 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. It was you."
In some of the most famous dialogue Hollywood ever produced, Terry was riding his one-way ticket to Palooka-ville in the back seat of a taxi that was taking Charlie to his rendezvous with death.  Obviously, Charlie didn't reach out to Terry, looking out for his own self-interest instead.

As Terry tells us, Charley should have looked out for him a little bit.  Terry, instead of being a contender, is just another compromised stevedore on the Mafia-infested docks of New York in the middle of the last century. Johnny Friendly runs The Mob on the docks. Any stevedore who doesn't pay tribute to The Mob couldn't get a job at the show-up. Terry, though, doesn't always pay and sometimes gets to sleep on the job because Charlie is one of Johnny Friendly's henchmen.

When a stevedore gets out of line, i.e. shows signs that he might start to "sing," Johnny's henchmen take care of him.  When Joey Doyle looks like he might rat out Johnny  Friendly and The Mob, Terry becomes an unwitting accomplice in Joey's murder. Terry's grief unbearably intensifies when he falls in love with Joey's sister, Edie, just home from Sisters of St. Anne College.                                                                                           
Enter Father Barry. After Edie accuses Father of "hiding in his church," he reaches out.  Father takes his ministry to the docks. Fr. Barry tries to rally the men to stand up to Johnny Friendly and The Mob. It's hard because on the docks a man who isn't "D and D," i.e. deaf and dumb, is not respected. The first response to Fr. Barry's ministry is the murder of Kayo Dugan when a hoist "accidentally" malfunctions crushing Kayo on the deck inside the ship's hold under a pallet full of cases of whiskey.

In addition to Terry's, Fr. Barry's got some pretty good lines too: 

"Father Barry: Boys, this is my church! And if you don't think Christ is down here on the waterfront you've got another guess coming!"

In the hold of the ship where Kayo was killed:

"Father Barry: 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."

And at the beginning of Terry's epiphany:

Terry: If I spill, my life ain't worth a nickel.
Father Barry: And how much is your soul worth if you don't?

Edie prodded  Fr. Barry into action causing Terry to fess up to Edie, testify before the Crime Commission, take on Johnny Friendly in an epic battle, at least temporarily lead the stevedores out of bondage to the Mafia and with his actions begin to regain his soul. It's about as happy an ending as could be, given the times, the setting and the characters. It's reaching out. The priest reached out. It's just a movie but...

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