Director's Cut: Handled with kid gloves: Barry Levinson, director of Rain Man and Good Morning Vietnam, on Kazan's On the Waterfront

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The Independent Culture
A scene I remember right now is the one between Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront. I can't even recall their conversation - there's dialogue going on, but it's the visual image that I thought was so strong. She drops her glove and he picks it up and holds it for a moment. The subtext of it is that here's a man who was a boxer, who has worked with gloves on his hands, and obviously has a certain kind of straight masculinity. And here's a moment when suddenly he's just playing with this little white glove which represents something of the femininity within him.

I thought that it spoke volumes about the actor's craft, and the transitions the character was going through, but all played in this very, very simple fashion, without having to define anything in words. It may have been an accident, maybe Eva Marie Saint dropped the glove by mistake and Brando just picked it up, but none of these things matter in the final analysis. I haven't seen On the Waterfront in ages, and the interesting thing is this: I may be partially incorrect about what happened, because I don't study film. But it's what stands out in my mind, and what we carry in our mind may be as important as what's actually going on on the screen.

Barry Levinson's 'Toys' continues to play around the country. His first film, 'Diner', is released on video (Warner, pounds 8.99) this week.

(Photograph omitted)