Texts in the City: On the Waterfront

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.


Portrait of Thomas Caldwell

Thomas Caldwell

Thomas Caldwell is a freelance writer, broadcaster and public speaker who specializes in film criticism and educational writing on film.

Portrait of Ruby Murray

Ruby Murray

Ruby J Murray is a writer and researcher whose work appears regularly in Australian magazines, journals and newspapers. Her first novel, Running Dogs, is out now through Scribe.

Portrait of Margaret Pomeranz

Margaret Pomeranz

Margaret Pomeranz AM co-hosted The Movie Show on SBS and At The Movies on ABC with David Stratton for nearly three decades. She has served as a member of the Advertising Standards Board, is a past President of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been both President and Vice-President of Watch on Censorship. Margaret is currently presenting movies and a review program Screen on Foxtel.

Portrait of David Stratton

David Stratton

David Stratton is a former director of the Sydney Film Festival, former film critic for the international film industry magazine Variety, and is currently film critic for The Australian. He also co-hosts the ABC’s At the Movies with Margaret Pomeranz.

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