Yesterday I mentioned that the movie On the Waterfront was based on a series of articles by Malcolm Johnson that were published in 1948.
But before Brando could mumbled those famous words, “I coulda been somebody,” and before the eight Oscar awards the film won, and before the script by Budd Schilberg, and even before the articles by Malcolm Johnson there was crime on the waterfront. Organized crime.
And while I’ll let other debate the role the police and unions had in the situation there was at least one person who stood up to the thugs–John M. Corridan. He was the Catholic Priest who was the inspiration behind the Father Barry charatcer played by Karl Malden in On the Waterfront.
When screenwriter Budd Schulberg was asked how hard it was to write the speeches that Father Barry gives he basically said he just crafted the words Father Corridan gave. This made me a little more interested in finding out who this man was that stood up against organized crime.
According to Wikipedia Corridan collaborated with Malcolm Johnson on his series of articles that won Johnson the Pulizter Prize in local reporting. Father Corridan also met over the years with screenwriter Budd Schulberg.
Allen Raymond wrote a biography on Corridan called Waterfront Priest. Schulberg wrote the introduction and desribed Father Corridan as a “tall, youthful, balding, energetic, ruddy-faced Irishman whose speech was a fascinating blend of Hell’s Kitchen jargon, baseball slang, the facts and figures of a master in economics and the undeniable humanity of Christ.”
Another related book is On the Irish Waterfront by James T. Fisher.