Battle on the Waterfront

The hoary argument that Budd Schulberg and Elia Kazan sought to use their film "On the Waterfront" to justify their decision to name names before the House Un-American Activities Committee was resurrected once again last month in the New York Times Magazine's annual "The Lives They Lived" issue. In his obit for Schulberg and Karl Malden, Anthony Giardina dubbed Schulberg the "Mark McGwire of writers" for testifying before HUAC, "a man whose later achievements wil always have an asterisk by them."

Now Jim Fisher, a professor at Fordham University and author of a recent book about "Waterfront," is shooting back, offering a different account of this episode in film history. At a reading in Brooklyn this week he told the crowd that his book reveals that Schulberg's script was completed six weeks before his testimony before HUAC. “The mistaken assumption that has guided critical approaches to this superlative film may now be turned on its head,” Fisher told the Times. “The issue is not whether Schulberg’s testimony shaped subsequent versions of the ‘Waterfront’ screenplay but whether the act of composing the original screenplay shaped his decision to testify or the character of that testimony.”

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Read all about on the Times' excellent City Room blog.

And learn more about Jim Fisher's book and the characters that inspired "On the Waterfront" in this video produced by America.

Tim Reidy

 

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9 years ago
"we have tried to encourage charity, not always to great success"-TIM REIDY.

Indeed. You are too young to know this, but, remember: charity begins at home.
MARY JO LILLY
9 years ago
Sorry, Tim, that you had to endure those distractions from the actual subject of the post, but, getting back to it, thank you for calling attention to such an interesting topic.  Jim Fisher's impressive work has certainly ignited some great new discussion on the topic.
9 years ago
I'll be getting the book to see if my West Side Irish-American relatives are mentioned. I'm afraid they were not on the 'right' side of the shape-ups. My father who was not on the docks told me that my mother's relatives would put the number of tooth picks in their hat band that would represent the kick-back they would give if hired. one was called up for the Kefauver committee and insulted the Senator.
John Kolar
9 years ago
What a great post!  Thanks for calling attention to this wonderful story of Catholic social justice in the form of Fr. Corriden's mission, even though it had a downside of failure to motivate the many.  My daughter, who is a Junior at Fordham, gave me Professor James Fisher's book for Christmas.  I can' put it down.
John Kolar
9 years ago
What a great post!  Thanks for calling attention to this wonderful story of Catholic social justice in the form of Fr. Corriden's mission, even though it had a downside of failure to motivate the many.  My daughter, who is a Junior at Fordham, gave me Professor James Fisher's book for Christmas.  I can't put it down.  (I reposted to correct a typo: can' should have been can't.  Sorry.)

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