“On the Waterfront” (dir. Elia Kazan, 1954)
Two of Lee’s cinematic heroes are Elia Kazan, the Golden Age Hollywood filmmaker known for his bold, socially conscious works, and Kazan’s screenwriting partner Budd Schulberg. In a 2018 interview for GQ, Lee spoke about his love for their film “On the Waterfront,” which stars Marlon Brando as an ex-boxer attempting to make a stand against the corrupt union bosses at his dockworking job.
Lee, who would go on to befriend Schulberg before the screenwriter’s death in 2009, praised the film for its great acting, cinematography, directing, and writing.