Monday, January 11, 2010

On The Waterfront: Terry and Edie's scene

One of my favorite scenes in film. It's been long documented and remarked at the bit where Terry picks up Edie's glove and doesn't hand it back to her...she makes an attempt at getting it back without letting go of her line...Brando's choice is makes the connection between the two legitimate...she has to stay and continue the conversation in order to get her glove back...he makes her stay with this action.

Another thing I love is the eye contact and lack of eye contact. At the beginning of the scene when Edie is pressing Terry about Joey, Brando's eyes are looking everywhere, which feels extraordinarily natural. It's the way a lot of us have conversations, with very little eye contact. Eva Marie Saint looks around skittishly looking at him, then away and back...demurely...

The turn in the scene is tremendous as well as Terry gets her to becomes about memory...what each remembers about the us a little backstory to them and how they watched each other from afar when they were younger. Nostalgia seems to be a great disarmer. Once she smiles there is a comfort level that was not at the beginning of the scene...Her turn is very apparent, and Terry's less so although he is now a bit more himself. On the swing he was stumbling over questions, trying to seem smarter than maybe he is, and he's aware of that which makes the scene tense at that point. Knowing you're not something you wish you could be, or you thought people would want to see is a difficult piece of self information to wade through...well played by both.

Critics always choose the "contender" scene with steiger as the classic scene of this film but this is it for me...tense, tender, natural, optomistic and tragic.