History behind “On the Waterfront”


“Crime on the Waterfront”

Here’s some nostalgia, courtesy of Jonathan Hall from Cornell University Press.

Jonathan contacted Hoboken411 to share this fantastic video from American Magazine about what inspired the famous movie On the Waterfront, Karl Malden’s character Father Barry – and recently deceased filmmaker Budd Schulberg.

If you don’t know much about the movie or the history – this will handily sum it up for you in six minutes. Very interesting.

On the Irish Waterfront

Additionally, you might be interested in the new book “On the Irish Waterfront” – which is also all about Hoboken.

on the irish waterfron james t fisher hoboken nj - History behind "On the Waterfront"“Site of the world’s busiest and most lucrative harbor throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the Port of New York was also the historic preserve of Irish American gangsters, politicians, longshoremen’s union leaders, and powerful Roman Catholic pastors. This is the demimonde depicted to stunning effect in Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954) and into which James T. Fisher takes readers in this remarkable and engaging historical account of the classic film’s backstory.

Fisher introduces readers to the real “Father Pete Barry” featured in On the Waterfront, John M. “Pete” Corridan, a crusading priest committed to winning union democracy and social justice for the port’s dockworkers and their families. A Jesuit labor school instructor, not a parish priest, Corridan was on but not of Manhattan’s West Side Irish waterfront. His ferocious advocacy was resisted by the very men he sought to rescue from the violence and criminality that rendered the port “a jungle, an outlaw frontier,” in the words of investigative reporter Malcolm Johnson. Driven off the waterfront, Corridan forged creative and spiritual alliances with men like Johnson and Budd Schulberg, the screenwriter who worked with Corridan for five years to turn Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1948 newspaper exposé into a movie. Fisher’s detailed account of the waterfront priest’s central role in the film’s creation challenges standard views of the film as a post facto justification for Kazan and Schulberg’s testimony as ex-communists before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

On the Irish Waterfront is also a detailed social history of the New York/New Jersey waterfront, from the rise of Irish American entrepreneurs and political bosses during the World War I era to the mid-1950s, when the emergence of a revolutionary new mode of cargo-shipping signaled a radical reorganization of the port. This book explores the conflicts experienced and accommodations made by an insular Irish-Catholic community forced to adapt its economic, political, and religious lives to powerful forces of change both local and global in scope.”

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Monday, September 7, 2009 4:56 pm

The Prof has a bit of a Bill Murray look. Esp with the sunglasses.

His comments about the dockworkers voting the corrupt union back in as well as Margaret’s comments on the continual duping of Hoboken natives, remind me of recent events. Despite the obviously shady nature of Cammarano and many of his closest associates, he managed to win. Including a majority of long term residents, who know better than most most how corruption short changes them, especially those living in the projects. With the ‘liquor’ of nativist sentiments and cash around election time?

Margaret, I see that the similarity isn’t lost on you. Will you be out fighting the corruption’s replacement candidate in the Fall. That is, the Russos and/or Raia. -Dave

Sunday, September 6, 2009 5:59 am

If you think the Dutch first settled Hoboken you are wrong. The QUAKERS were here “first” and before that MORAVIAN MISSIONARIES
who did not get along with the natives and moved on.
The QUAKERS moved to PENNSYLVANIA where they still are somewhat.

I have all this and more. WILL NOT HAVE IT PLAGIARIZED but will give it away to those who want to read info from the REAL HISTORY HERE…just to clear my name and reputation from where it was smeared and abused…

Sunday, September 6, 2009 5:55 am

The entire HISTORY of the first Pioneers here and the Churches and the Schools is all the way down on a second book. SCROLL and see it on fullmoonoverhoboken.com with PICTURES…just follow the COMPASS by M.A. O’Brien,….that is me…

It is about time I got credit for MY OWN WORK including what was plagiarized and abused.

Sunday, September 6, 2009 5:49 am

Have another paragraph..I have hundreds and hundreds…all true.

“as the settlers and pioneers filled up our town, the FIRST MAYOR was elected. Cornelius Glickener was famous as a laxative salesman who “purged” the local farmers and ran a campaign of listening to complaints from the citizens. “I’ll get to the bottom of this” was one of his campaign slogans, and a “liquid
jollification” followed after each official meeting, which were
many as there were many complaints. Purging was a common ailment in those days, as the farmers diets were overloaded with homemade bread products, and bakeries and merchants were becoming wealthy. A young ambitious German immigrant (Glickener)
traversed door to door with his “purging” products! Snake oil laced with Laudanum and liniments, used also for horses, were the order of the day. He surrounded himself with a few wealthy farmers who ran policy past the citizens, (sound familiar?) and a few of them went on to become elected. See more @ fullmoonoverhoboken.com ( lithographs and pictures of our first Mayor and city council)…I have SO MUCH MORE….and I will NOT give it away with no credit to any faux museum…

Sunday, September 6, 2009 5:33 am

Here is the “first” paragraph from some of my stuff. Judge for yourself.
“Hoboken is and has always been a “prototype” town. Politics goes back to the “first” meeting of the natives with Henry Hudson. He warred with them, killed a few, then returned to our shores to bring a keg of Brandy to the Chief of the Natives here
(Oratam) to get him drunk. The language of the times states that
the chief “pukethe and falleth downe”. The surrounding natives
were readying their arrows when the Chief awoke, and ordered “more firewater!”. Politically, things haven’t changed much over the centuries, and those natives are long gone to the happy hunting ground, and have been replaced many times by different “natives” with differing cultures and times.

I have whole chapters and that is the first paragraph. The Library of Congress has them, as does the Copyright office in Washington D.C. Whatever didn’t get kyped for the “museum” is still with me.

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