Immersed in Blu-ray On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront (1954) dazzles on the new Criterion Blu-ray out this week just in time for the Academy Awards. The landmark best picture winner about social corruption and personal redemption directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando has even greater intensity and intimacy, thanks to a new 4K digital restoration from the original 35mm camera negative overseen by Sony’ s Grover Crisp.

There’s no disputing the greatness of On the Waterfront even if the political controversy about Kazan testifying as a friendly witness before HUAC in 1952 dogged him throughout his life (imagine if Oscar campaigning was as politicized back then as it is today).

The urban poetry is still powerful, from Budd Schulberg’s well observed script to Boris Kaufman’s tactile black and white cinematography to Leonard Bernstein’s lyrical score. And the breakthrough acting style is uniformly effective throughout the talented ensemble from Brando to Eva Marie Saint to Karl Malden to Lee J. Cobb to Rod Steiger. I once got Saint to reminisce on the phone about Brando’s boundless creativity and how came up with the tender glove routine in rehearsal.

Plus, there are three aspect ratios to view: 1.66:1 (Kaufman’s preferred ratio), 1.33:1, and 1.85:1 along with alternate 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

Bonus features include a new documentary on the making of the movie, Elia Kazan: An Outsider (1982), Contender: Mastering the Method (a 2001 doc on the famous cab scene).

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Oscar

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