On the Waterfront (1954)

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Released 5-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Booklet
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Richard Schickel (Critic) & Jeff Young (E Kazan Biographer)
Featurette-Contender: Mastering the Method
Interviews-Crew-Elia Kazan Interview
Gallery-Photo-Video Photo Gallery
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Picnic; From Here To Eternity
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1954
Running Time 103:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:07) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Elia Kazan

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Marlon Brando
Karl Malden
Lee J. Cobb
Rod Steiger
Eva Marie Saint
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music Leonard Bernstein

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    On The Waterfront is a classic film about one man's struggle with his conscience and his union bosses on the docks where he works.

    Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is an ex-boxer who now works on the docks with his brother and a group of powerful union representatives. When a worker attempts to inform authorities about the corruption on the docks, the union bosses decide to send a clear message. Terry and a number of fellow workers pay the informer a visit and he is killed. The dead man's sister, Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint), is determined to find out who was behind the killing and she forms a relationship with Terry. As Edie continues to pursue her brother's killers, Terry begins to question his loyalties and must decide if he will stand up to the union bosses.

    This film was nominated for twelve Academy Awards in 1954 and won eight including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Story and Screenplay and Best Director. The film was directed by Elia Kazan who had previously been the first person to testify before the House Un-American Activities Commission. When the film was released, many people felt that this movie was in part autobiographical and that Kazan was trying to justify his actions. While this may be true in some part, it does not alter the fact that nearly fifty years later, this film is still considered a classic, with its excellent script and brilliant performances by all the actors involved.

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Transfer Quality


    This excellent full frame transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    This transfer is very sharp throughout but a small number of scenes, mainly long shots, do appear a little soft. As with most high quality black and white transfers, the shadow detail displayed is excellent with very high levels of detail visible in the darker sections of the image. No low level noise was detected during the transfer.

    This is a black and white transfer and the image displays a uniform greyscale throughout with no colouration present at any time.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected at any stage during the transfer.

    Two small instances of aliasing were detected at 1:26 and 103:00 but these artefacts are not distracting to the viewer.

    A number of film artefacts are present throughout the transfer, not surprising for a film of this age. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 1:26, 5:38, 5:48, 6:46 and 7:57. The vast majority of these artefacts are quite minor. Some scenes display obvious film grain but this is never distracting.

    Twenty one sets of subtitles are provided for the main feature. I extensively sampled the English flavour and found them to be consistently accurate.

    The layer change appears to occur at 55:07 during Chapter 16 at a natural fade to black and is unlikely to be detected by many viewers.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    English, French, German, Italian and Spanish Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 mono tracks are provided on this disc. I listened to the English track in full and briefly sampled the other tracks.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand but the occasional line is slightly muffled.

    Two slight problems with audio sync may be seen at 4:20 and 68:14. These may be due to ADR work as the problems only occur for very short durations of time.

    The score by Leonard Bernstein is very effective and suits the on-screen action well. This was the only score written by Bernstein for a non-musical film.

    The surround and subwoofer channels are not utilised during the transfer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Feature Length Commentary

    This commentary is by critic/writer Richard Schickel and Elia Kazan biographer Jeff Young. During this track they discuss some of the events surrounding this film, the actors' performances and general information about Brando and Kazan. A set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles are provided for the commentary.

Elia Kazan Interview (12:01)

    In this interesting interview with the film's director Elia Kazan, he discusses how the film was developed and how it was made. This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles.

Featurette: Contender Mastering the Method (25:14)

    This featurette examines Brando's famous "I could've been a contender" scene from the film. Various actors and critics discuss why this is such a powerful scene and why it works so well with the film. This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles.

Photo Gallery (4:30)

    This is an animated series of production shots from the film. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.


    A set of selected filmographies are provided for Elia Kazan, Budd Schulberg, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger and Eva Marie Saint.

Theatrical Trailer (2:40)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack and a set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles.

Trailer: From Here To Eternity (1:02)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack and a set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles.

Trailer: Picnic (3:14)

    This trailer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a set of French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch subtitles.


    This is a ten page booklet that provides information on each of the titles in the Academy Award Winners Collection from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both versions of this film appear to be identical and I therefore would have no preference for either version.


    On The Waterfront is an excellent film that provides some brilliant performances and will always be seen as an all-time classic.

    The video transfer is of very high quality and is only let down by numerous minor film artefacts.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack accurately reproduces the original audio and is completely sufficient for this film.

    The interesting collection of extras provides some insights into the making of this film and should appeal to all fans.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Monday, February 04, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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