SUBTEXT: Sins of Omission in “On the Waterfront” (1954) (Part 1)

Terry Malloy and his fellow longshoremen on the New York docks are witnesses to union corruption under labor boss Johnny Friendly, but won’t testify against him because of his violent intimidation tactics, which ensure that union members remain “D and D”—that is, deaf and dumb—to any illegal activity. When Terry’s collaboration with Friendly results in the death of his friend Joey Doyle, and when Terry subsequently falls in love with Joey’s sister, Edie, he’s forced to reckon with this D and D policy, as well as his own passivity, guilt, and naivete. Wes & Erin discuss Elia Kazan’s 1954 film On the Waterfront, which might be said to dramatize the so-called “sin of omission” while asserting that its opposite, truth-telling, can be a radical and perhaps even a strangely physical form of heroism.

The discussion continues with part two.

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