American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"On The Waterfront" (1954)


Father Barry Delivers Knockout Waterfront Homily on Corrupt Union Bosses


Some people think the crucifixion only took place on Calvary. Well theyíd better wise up.

Takin' Joey Doyleís life to stop him from testifying is a crucifixion.

And droppin' a sling on Kayo Dugan because he was ready to spill his guts tomorrow -- thatís a crucifixion!

And every time the mob puts the pressure on a good man, tries to stop him from doing his duty as a citizen -- itís a crucifixion!

And anybody who sits around and lets it happen, keeps silent about something he knows has happened, shares the guilt of it just as much as the Roman soldier who pierced the flesh of our Lord to see if he was dead.

Boys, this is my church! And if you donít think Christ is down here on the waterfront, youíve got another guess coming.

Every morning when the hirin' boss blows his whistle, Jesus stands alongside you in the shape-up. He sees why some of you get picked and some of you get passed over. He sees the family men worrying about gettin' the rent and gettin' food in the house for the wife and the kids. He sees you sellin' your souls to the mob for a dayís pay!

Now, what does Christ think of the easy money boys who do none of the work and take all of the gravy? And how does he feel about the fellas who wear a $150.00 suits and diamond rings on your union dues and your kickback money? And how does He, who spoke up without fear against every evil, feel about your silence?!

You want to know whatís wrong with our waterfront? Itís the love of a lousy buck. Itís makin' love of a buck, the cushy job, more important than the love of man. Itís forgettin' that every fella down here is your brother in Christ.

But remember, Christ is always with you. Christ is in the shape-up. Heís in the hatch. Heís in the un[ion] -- Heís kneeling right here beside Dugan. And heís sayin' with all of you: ďIf you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me.Ē

And what they did to Joey, and what they did to Dugan, theyíre doing to you, and you, you -- all of you! And only you, only you with Godís help have the power to knock Ďem out for good.

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HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.