On the Waterfront

Charlie Malloy

Charlie Malloy negotiates a complex gauntlet of emotions and becomes a tragic figure at the end for unsuccessfully trying to bridge the gulf between two enemies. He’s as loyal as a blood brother to Johnny Friendly. Friendly has promoted him to second-in-command in the organization and has made it possible for him to provide for himself handsomely. Additionally, Friendly has been a sort of father figure for both Malloys since their father was murdered and Friendly took them under his strong and binding wing. However, Charlie’s love for Terry, Friendly’s enemy, is palpable in their every interaction. Whether he’s kidding with Terry about his cushy position on the docks or berating him for his relationship with Edie, Charlie exhibits concern for Terry’s well-being. However, he doesn’t consider Terry’s personal wishes, which proves to be a fatal mistake. Actor Rod Steiger portrays Charlie’s growing anxiety with knowing eyes and hesitant flappings of a glove in the taxicab. As the film progresses, Charlie realizes that his two sides cannot reconcile, and he becomes increasingly desperate to figure out how to maintain his loyalties to opposing parties.