Search This Blog

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Edge of the City - A Film Review

At the Moving Image museum, I watched Edge of the City, a 1957 movie starring John Cassavetes, Sidney Poitier, Jack Warden, and Ruby Dee. It was a gritty movie dealing with issues of race, as Cassavetes plays a dock worker running away from his tortured past, befriending his gregarious boss (Poitier), and dealing with threats of blackmail from his racist other boss (Warden).

The film was really well-acted, and I always like seeing small details in how life was different decades ago (phone operators speak live on collect calls and listen to conversations; the $1.70/hr dockworker wages and a bet where the loser owes 40 cents). I liked that the film felt more like an independent film than a Hollywood movie, though the music score could get way too over dramatic at times (like getting louder during a scene with the villain or during any kind of pathos).

Poitier was very charming and likable in his role, and was a total scene-stealer from Cassavetes. He would be nominated from an Academy Award the next year for The Defiant Ones. He was so compelling to watch that it felt like a shame that more POC actors during that time didn't get as much fame as he and Harry Belafonte did. Rita Moreno is one of likely three Latino actors to win an Academy Award for acting, and I believe there has been only two Asian actors who won Oscars for acting (Ben Kingsley, and a supporting actor from The Killing Fields).

The film's director, Martin Ritt, also directed Hud and Norma Rae, and seemed to excel in making films about working class people fighting for a better life.

I was also really impressed with Ruby Dee, particularly in a heavy dramatic scene that exemplified her pain and the cowardice of Cassavetes' character. She was really excellent. And Jack Warden, though he played an awful racist, excelled in his role, too. I only knew of him as an old man from Problem Child and While You Were Sleeping, so it was nice to see him in a much earlier role.

No comments:

Post a Comment