Art imitates life, but doesn’t get it quite right: “On the Waterfront” still a great movie, but needs a new ending

Today I had a lot of work to do in the house, so I turned on the tv for company. Usually I can find a movie I like, preferably one I’ve seen 800 million times, so I don’t have to pay attention the entire time. I was shocked to find “On The Waterfront” playing on THIS! Somehow, I have managed to live my entire life without ever seeing this movie. I didn’t get all my work done, but I’m glad I got to watch this film.

I already knew all about this movie. I had a friend in college who was fascinated with Marlon Brando, so I know the Brando movies pretty well. I’ve seen all the bits and outtakes – especially the “I could have been a contender” speech.  But I had to see this movie to understand not only why it is considered one of the best movies ever made, but also one of the most important movies in American history.

And wow, talk about pertinent. Our community would benefit greatly from a serious and thorough discussion about unions. Unions have never been much more than groups of people who work together for their own gain – without any delusions about what’s good for the public or the community.

My parents were Teamsters because they worked for “closed shops.” My dad complained about the money the union took, for nothing. They had nothing to do with his daily life, his job, his boss, or the numerous and onerous state regulations that governed his work. What, for example, has Teamsters done about the new CARB requirements? A lot of people see what’s really going on – the big closed shops are happy that CARB is putting the owner-operator out of business. 

My mom worked for a big highway builder. She had Teamsters health insurance, but nobody wanted it.  She was always told she’d have to pay for our dental or medical visits and then go about getting the money back from Teamsters herself. She never did, she just went on paying the dues and getting absolutely nothing. 

Wow, can you believe, in America, we have such a notion as a “closed shop”? 

At the end of “On The Waterfront,” the workmen fantasize about getting “The Mob” out of the longshoreman’s union – what a laugh. The unions we have today ARE “The Mob”, don’t kid yourself. Unions exclude people, they take people’s rights away instead of securing them. We need “right to work” legislation, not more protection for these racketeers. 








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