Study Guide

On the Waterfront Scene 1

Scene 1

Scene 1

  • As the opening credits appear, we hear the movie's tender, melancholy score pick up. Then things get a little tense in the music—and then, there's a Skrillex bass drop.
  • No, not really. This thing was made in the 1950's, guys.
  • We see men arriving at—guess where?—a waterfront (apparently in Hoboken, NJ). Some dudes in trench coats instruct a guy in a plaid jacket to go do something. We don't know what yet…
  • At night, plaid jacket guy goes to an apartment building and calls for a dude named Joey.
  • Joey comes to the window, and we learn the plaid jacket guy's name is Terry.
  • Terry tells him that he has one of Joey's pet pigeons, which escaped. He takes out the pigeon and shows him.
  • Joey tells him to meet him on the roof, where he keeps his birds.
  • But we can see that men in trench coats are waiting for Joey on the roof. Terry is clearly in cahoots with them, luring Joey onto the roof.
  • Terry doesn't go to the roof; he waits with a couple more trench-coat guys.
  • Suddenly, we see the two men on the roof throw Joey off, killing him.
  • Terry's upset—he says he thought they were just going to talk to Joey or scare him.
  • The other guys joke about it, saying Joey got what he deserved for thinking about ratting out their boss.
  • People from the apartments and Joey's father stand outside as the cops talk to them.
  • A woman speaks up, saying Joey was the only longshoreman with the guts to stand up and talk to crime investigators (about what the union bosses are up to at the waterfront).
  • Joey's father yells at the woman, telling her that's what got Joey killed.
  • Joey's sister, Edie, arrives and pulls away the newspaper the cops are using to cover her brother's body. She cries and yells, wanting to know who murdered Joey.
  • A priest, Father Barry, tries to comfort her, telling her he'll be in the church if she wants to see him.
  • But she cuttingly accuses him of hiding out in the church instead of being out in the world…

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