I have to say that of the first two contenders, Lawrence of Arabia versus On the Waterfront, On the Waterfront came out victorious. Lawrence was KO’d, as it were, for four reasons.
One: Marlon Brando, playing Terry. Swoon. Enough said. Him, with the smoking and the mumbling and the boxing. Gorgeous. I don’t want to watch The Godfather for fear that when I think of him after I will imagine him something older than 30, and that just doesn’t work for me.
Two: Leading lady, Eva Marie Saint who plays Edie. Her hair is perfect. All the time. Her brother dies, great hair; she’s chilling with the priest, awesome hair; Terry visits at 8:30 on a Tuesday night while she’s in her dressing gown, not a hair out of place. She also has the temperament of a Disney heroine, I just expected her to burst into song at any moment, she’s just lovely.
Three: Plot. There’s a plot. It’s compelling, it’s easy to follow, but not asinine. I won’t tell you what it is, because you should watch the movie; but there is death and politics and love and tragedy and all the things that make a movie great.
And the knock out punch? It was a completely manageable length. Under two hours. I suggest bringing a snack, but you don’t have to pack a suitcase and move your whole life into the living room, unlike for one particularly longer cinematic adventure, of which I have already spoken.
Go rent On the Waterfront; it won eight Oscars in 1954, you know, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Tell me what you think.