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In the 1954 movie On the Waterfront Father Barry (Karl Malden) rallies the dock workers and encourages them to stand up to the mob. It is considered one of the most powerful sermons ever placed on film, Father Barry speaks of Christ and his crucifixion on the docks.
A movie on labor problems
The 1954 movie On the Waterfront is considered a classic in filmmaking. In 1989, it was one of the first 25 films to be deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
The movie features Marlon Brando as longshoreman Terry Malloy, who gets locked in a brutal battle with the ruthless labour boss Johnny Friendly, played by Lee J. Cobb. The issue is the rights of the dockworkers. Not only are the longshoremen being exploited by the ship owners, but they are also being shaken down by their own union leaders.
The character of the priest in the film, Father Barry, was based on the actual work on the docks of a hardbitten Irish-Catholic Jesuit Priest, Father John Corridan. From 1946-1957 he waged a one man crusade in New York against the gangsters who controlled the International Longshoreman’s Association.
In one scene Father Barry rallies the dock workers and encourages them to stand up to the mob (c.f. movie clip).
Afterwards, the Marlon Brando character undergoes a transformation after his brother is murdered by Johnny Friendly’s goons. From being a tough and uncaring street fighter, he becomes a crusader for his fellow workers and testifies for them to the Crime Commission against their corrupt labor bosses.
Today’s Gospel also deals with a labor problem. At first it appears that the parable is setting up a model for management and labor relationships. Such is not the case.
The parable by our Lord is more about the generosity of God than about working conditions. The story is more about the supreme goodness of God than about wage settlements. The punch line in the parable is the statement at the end: “I intend to give this man who was hired last the same pay. I am free to do as I please with my money, am I not? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
In his book The Parables of Jesus, Joachim Jeremias says that today’s Gospel portrays the behavior of a large-hearted man who is compassionate and full of sympathy for the poor. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
SOURCE: Fr. Tony's homilies
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America - The Jesuit Review (6:13)
On the Waterfront (1/8) Movie CLIP - Present from Uncle Johnny (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (2/8) Movie CLIP - Am I Gonna See You Again? (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (3/8) Movie CLIP - Terry Asks Edie Out (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (4/8) Movie CLIP - This Is My Church (1954) HD
Terry's Conscience - On the Waterfront (5/8) Movie CLIP (1954) HD
I Coulda Been a Contender - On the Waterfront (6/8) Movie CLIP (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (7/8) Movie CLIP - They Got Charley (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (8/8) Movie CLIP - Let's Go to Work! (1954) HD
On the Waterfront (1954) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers