Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

Texts in the City: On the Waterfront

Listen to Texts in the City: On the Waterfront

Renowned film critics and ABC At The Movies co-hosts Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton take the reigns for this special edition of Texts in the City examining On the WaterfrontElia Kazan’s 1954 film about unions, coercion and corruption, produced in the shadow of the Hollywood blacklist.

Stratton opens with a summary of director Kazan and the pressure he and others in the film industry were under to conform politically in the mid-twentieth century. He then describes the film as ‘nothing more or less than a justification for betraying your friends’, referring to Kazan’s eventual naming of names during the blacklist era.

Pomeranz and Stratton proceed to talk about the filmmaking approach of Kazan, which borrowed heavily from the theatre. Kazan discovered previously unknown actors and used real locations, a thread Pomeranz picks up again when discussing the particular techniques Kazan employs to tell his story.

Pomeranz reflects on what she argues is the key relationship of the film (that between Terry and Edie), and Kazan’s later work with James Dean, pioneering widescreen technology with East of Eden.

Finally, we learn about the film’s background: from Arthur Miller’s original screenplay through to Budd Schulberg’s final script. Our hosts cast an eye back to Miller’s earlier work, The Crucible, and compare the depictions of conflict and social turmoil.

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.