Video Picks Archive

March 7, 2001
This Week's Video Picks
Back to Archive

Reviews by Matt Heffernan <>

This week my picks are The Contender (2000 - ) and On the Waterfront (1954 - ).

The first film this week lives up to its title; Rod Lurie's The Contender is up for two Academy Awards this year. The first nominee is Joan Allen, who plays a senator that has been selected by the president (Jeff Bridges, the other nominee) to be the next vice president. The confirmation hearing is headed by a congressman (Gary Oldman) who seeks to defame her character by bringing up an alleged event from her college days. The Contender wears its liberal politics on its sleeve, but still manages to be a compelling film that even fans of Rush Limbaugh could appreciate on an artistic level. Ironically, an article in Premiere alleged that the right-leaning Oldman found his character -- who is essentially a monstrous caricature of a zealous Republican -- to be more sympathetic than Allen's. However, the consensus is that Lurie succeeded in his thinly-veiled dig at those who persecuted Clinton during his impeachment.
Full review from October 19, 2000

Any film buff would be hard-pressed to not think of the second film when watching The Contender. Even those who have never seen Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront know that Marlon Brando won his first Oscar for telling his brother, Charlie (Rod Steiger), that he "coulda been a contender." The line may be a cliché now, but in the original context, it adds an important stitch to the fabric of the film. It is a gripping story of a young longshoreman (Brando) who dares to defy the corrupt union that operates the loading docks along the Hudson River. It was a big leap from Kazan's earlier work, and finally established him as a great filmmaker as well as a great stage director. Aside from Brando's win for Best Actor, On the Waterfront garnered seven other Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress (Eva Marie Saint), Original Screenplay (Budd Schulberg), Black-and-White Cinematography (Boris Kaufman), Best Director, and Best Picture of 1954. Unfortunately, Steiger, Lee J, Cobb, and Karl Malden cancelled each other out for the Best Supporting Actor award.

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The Contender (2000)
On the Waterfront (1954)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
The Contender (2000) -- VHS
The Contender (2000) -- DVD
On the Waterfront (1954) -- VHS Home
Review Archive
Guide to Star Ratings

Capsule Reviews © 2001 Matt Heffernan