Father Barry (Karl Malden)
Far removed from the often-cloying sentimentality of movie priests is the fearless and principled man of the cloth in director Elia Kazan’s gritty drama of union corruption and violence on the Hoboken docks. Father Barry is the tough and incorruptible moral center of the movie: the hero’s journey of dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) cannot happen without Barry, who dispenses wise counsel—and a memorable well-aimed punch. Even in a film packed with so many stellar performances—its cast took home two acting Oscars and earned another three nominations—Malden’s Barry is one for the ages. The plain-spoken intensity of his “Christ on the waterfront” monologue, delivered as he is showered with rotten fruit from jeering longshoremen aligned with the mob, has lost none of its raw power—and rings true even today.
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