Although Terry complains that he”coulda been somebody”, he finally does become somebody worthy of admiration.
Starring Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint.
“If I spill, my life ain’t worth a nickel”. Terry Malloy retorts back to Father Barry in a key scene agonising over what to do, his knowledge and unwitting involvement in the ruthless murder of a co-waterside worker – Joey Doyle. Does he inform to the government or does he stay’D & D’ -‘deaf and dumb’?
His memory of the past is haunted by’What could have been scenarios of an outcome had his conniving older brother Charlie, and the shady union boss – Johnny Friendly not interfered with his’Sure Winning Outcome’ of a career-defining boxing game.
Terry’s conscience of his unlawful predicament goes from woe to woe after fulfilling Edie, the murdered (nearly by his own hand) Joey Doyle’s sister with whom he quickly develops a strong affection for.
The Visually Surreal Moments of Terry’s inner journey of transformation: The symbolic speaking to the Snow White Innocence of Edie in the foreboding fence/barrier, talking from 1 side to the other through the cold iron spears. From good to evil, from evil to good. The stressful on, without success, of Edie’s nice warm little glove – we see the planet where he comes from and the unattainable world of his desire.
A hard to ignore Metaphor is when Edie hands Terry her brother’s coat,”Yours is coming apart”. Possibly saying this shows that Terry Malloy’s world is falling apart.
Our guilt ridden hero confronts a range of problems as we follow him along his journey of self-realisation. One of these issues being self-esteem as us the film audience play’Fly on the wall’ in the famous cab ride scene -“You do not know, I coulda had class. I coulda been a Contender. I coulda Been Somebody… ”
Another powerful Metaphor – Terry has travelled full circle since the’Dive Years’ before in the boxing ring. All bloodied and bruised. Terry is transformed into a vision of’Christ on the Waterfront’ because he’s helped to his unsteady feet by the tender exonerating woman in his life – Edie and the church’s ever-faithful representative – Father Barry. An extremely poignant ‘Redemption Scene’. He must take those incredibly painful steps on his own today if he’s to win this last round against the ruthless Johnny Friendly, and more importantly, to see his fellow Waterside Workers successfully crush the criminal oppression by following him to the Gates of Freedom – so to speak.
What makes this story truly intriguing and one which is going to be a long time discussed, is the question of Terry’s climactic motive: Has Terry Malloy turned into a selfless hero driven by the needs of the hundreds of fellow oppressed longshoremen or has he just become vengeful, – Avenging his brother’s murder?
However exulting the general wind up the film ascends to, Terry has transfigured himself from Bum,”I Coulda Been A Contender…”, Snivelling has-been kind without smarts’, into’Heroic Liberator’ for the Fellow Everyman.