Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

Top 50 Greatest NYC Movies — #27

On the Waterfront (dir. Elia Kazan, 1954)

07-19 On the Waterfront

Okay, we admit this one is a little bit of a cheat. It’s well known that Kazan’s classic was actually set and shot in Hoboken, New Jersey. But it reeks of the metropolis in virtually every other respect, and the omnipresence of the towers of the city is like Oz in the distance in every third shot. Based on a series of articles in the New York Sun, inspired by the activism of Father John Corridan (a crusading priest whose church was on the West Side), and originally set in Red Hook, Brooklyn (when Arthur Miller was connected to the project, before Budd Schulberg’s later drafts changed the setting), this social drama about crime, corruption, and the strengthening of a union, was mid-50’s New York through and through. It just happens to be on the other side of the river.

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