On the Waterfront script
Synopsis: Dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) had been an up-and-coming boxer until powerful local mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) persuaded him to throw a fight. When a longshoreman is murdered before he can testify about Friendly's control of the Hoboken waterfront, Terry teams up with the dead man's sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint) and the streetwise priest Father Barry (Karl Malden) to testify himself, against the advice of Friendly's lawyer, Terry's older brother Charley (Rod Steiger).

FADE IN:

EXT—ESTABLISHING SHOT—WATERFRONT—NIGHT

Shooting toward a small building (Hoboken Yacht Club) set upon a wharf

floating about twenty-five yards off shore. A long, narrow gangplank

leads from the wharf to the shore, and on either side of the wharf are

large ocean liners which are being unloaded by arc light. In the B.G.

is the glittering New York skyline. A great liner, blazing with light,

is headed down river. A ferry chugs across to Manhattan. There is a

counterpoint of ships' whistles, some shrill, others hauntingly muted.

CLOSER SHOT—SMALL BUILDING—ON WHARF—NIGHT

It is the office of the longshoremen's local for this section of

waterfront. Coming along the gangplank toward the shore is an isolated

figure. He is TERRY MALLOY, a wiry, jaunty, waterfront hanger-on in his

late twenties. He wears a turtleneck sweater, a windbreaker and a cap.

He whistles a familiar Irish song.

A SERIES OF WALKING SHOTS—TERRY MALLOY—WATERFRONT—NIGHT

Reaching the shore and turning away from the union office. Passing the

burned-out piers.

Turning up a waterfront tenement street lit by a dim street lamp that

throws an eerie beam. He is holding something inside his jacket but we

cannot see what it is.

NOTE:
MAIN TITLES TO BE SUPERIMPOSED OVER THIS SERIES OF SHOTS

EXT—WATERFRONT STREET—NIGHT

Terry walks along until he reaches an ancient tenement where he stops,

hesitates, looks up toward the top of the building, and putting his

fingers to his mouth lets out a shrill, effective whistle that echoes

up the quiet street. Then he cups his hands to his mouth and shouts:

TERRY:

Hey Joey! Joey Doyle!

MEDIUM SHOT—TENEMENT WINDOW—NIGHT

The window of a third-story room, from Terry's POV. JOEY DOYLE, a

youthful, rather sensitive and clean-cut Irish boy, pokes his head out

the window.

JOEY:

Terry?

(then a little suspiciously)

What do you want?

REVERSE ANGLE—WATERFRONT STREET—NIGHT

TERRY:

Hey look-

He reaches into his windbreaker in a gesture associated with drawing a

gun from a shoulder holster. But instead he draws out a live racing

pigeon. As he does so the bird makes an effort to escape and flaps its

wings, but Terry subdues it expertly and holds it up for Joey to see.

TERRY:

(somewhat uneasily)

—one of yours. I recognized the band.

CLOSE—ON JOEY AT WINDOW—NIGHT

There is a fire escape in front of it.

JOEY:

Yeah? Must be Danny-boy. I lost him in the

last race.

TERRY:

He followed my birds into their coop.

Here, you want him?

JOEY:

(cautiously)

Well I got to watch myself these days.

Know what I mean?

TERRY:

I'll bring him up to your loft.

JOEY:

(some what reassured)

I'll see you on the roof.

Joey closes the window and turns away.

EXT—MEDIUM CLOSE—TENEMENT—ON TERRY —NIGHT

Tensely, as if going through something he wishes he could avoid, Terry

looks in the direction of the tenement stoop and nods. Now for the

first time we see two men standing there under the doorway so that Joey

was unable to see them from his window. When Terry nods they enter the

tenement hallway; he takes a few steps forward so as to be out of sight

from Joey's widow. Then Terry raises the pigeon into the air and,

inexplicably, releases it. As it wings out of sight he turns and starts

up the street in the direction from which he came, walking crabwise as

if trying to see the effect of what he has just done. A soddenly drunk,

one-armed longshoreman, MUTT MURPHY, staggers toward him, singing in a

hoarse voice... .

MUTT:

(as if it were a dirge)

Tippi-tippi-tim, tippi-tim,

Tippi-tippi-tan, tippi-tan...

(He stumbles into Terry.)

Gotta dime for a crippled-up docker?

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Budd Schulberg

Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy ... more…

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"On the Waterfront" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 12 Dec. 2017. <http://www.scripts.com/script/on_the_waterfront_372>.

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