Terry and Johnny Fight Scene

29 Nov

Terry and Johnny Fight Scene

Scene Summary:

After being passed over for work, Terry marches with a crowd following behind, down the ramp to the union office. He passionately challenges Friendly and his cohorts when they appear. Friendly beckons Terry with his hands, inviting him to fight. Terry accepts the challenge and the two duke it out in a mono-a-mono brawl. However, Terry is ultimately overwhelmed and outnumbered by Friendly’s gang, nearly beaten to death behind the office shack. Father Barry and Edie arrive after the commotion has settled down and are greeted by the now battered and bruised Friendly, “You want ‘im? You can have im!”

Frame by Frame Analysis:

Image 1 

Image 2

In these two frames from the opening of this scene, we see Terry distinguished from his fellow longshoremen through camera angle and also background. We see Terry from the eyes of the longshoremen, captured at an upward angle with the sky as his background, they do not see him as one of them. The angle foreshadows his heroism by portraying him as such a strong and dominate figure in comparison to the next shot of the longshoremen. Notice here in the second shot that the longshoremen are captured at an eye-level view, no one is really distinguishable with everyone blending into their working environment.

Image 3

These next two shots are captured from the point of view of the union office shack where Johnny Friendly and his gang are waiting. The wide angle shot gives a sense of space and distance between Terry and the longshoremen that are following him. The union shack’s roof frames the upper portion of the shot at an angle which helps to convey a sense of motion, building tension by its dark foreboding presence in contrast with the reflection on the water which is light. The next frame shows Terry walking down the gang plank towards the union office, from the point of view of someone within the office looking up. Terry is in the center of the shot and framed by the shack’s post while his fellow longshoremen crowd the docks behind him. Again, everyone here is framed by the union shack’s roof symbolizing the fact that they are still under Friendly’s control.

Image 4

These shots of the longshoremen looking on convey a sense of anonymity and restlessness. There is no motion in these shots rather they convey a stillness that can be related to “the calm before the storm”. The framing of the longshoremen in the second shot is quite amazing, note that everyone is contained within some sort of inner frame – the men above leaning on the rail, the men to the left framed within a ship’s rail and then the men to the right, framed within the dock’s architecture. These two frames contrast each other slightly in that the first frame shows a never ending line of longshoremen, whereas the second, the men seem blocked together in a somewhat contrived fashion – a mold about to burst from its confinements. However, both shots are taken at a somewhat upward angle which heighten the distance and perceived tension or restlessness.

In contrast to the longshoremen shots, here we see Terry confronting Johnny Friendly from the gang plank. This angle exaggerates the distance between Terry and Friendly, signifying Terry’s resolve to shed himself of Friendly’s corruption once and for all.

Image 7

Another shot of Terry from the gang plank, but this time from Johnny Friendly’s view point, at an upward angle. Notice the lighting on Terry! While he may be in the shadow of the union office, he still rises above it both literally and figuratively.

Image 8


Johnny Friendly taunts Terry, provoking a fight. The rapid succession of shots alternating from close-ups to a side-view, conveys a sense of rapid movement synonymous with the actual fight taking place.

These two frames are amazing. The fight scene is really elevated due to the fact that the audience experiences it as one of the longshoremen. Here in the first shot, the action is blocked by Friendy’s thugs, the viewer is put in the shoes of a longshoreman watching, vying for a piece of the action from the docks, but unable to see. The fact that we are not shown every detail of the fight heightens the suspense. The second shot is angled downward, distancing the audience from the action even more, showing the throng of longshoremen waiting and watching. Again the fight is blocked by the shack, we are left to wonder and wait much like the longshoremen.

Father Barry and Edie arrive after the fight subsides but are initially blocked by a thug. Note how the thug takes up the entire left hand portion of the screen, his body in shadow, while Father Barry and Edie are highlighted, literally, by the light. We also get a glimmer of the sky, this time without the union office’s roof to contain the longshoremen. In the second shot, we see the thug in an extreme downward angle, distancing him from the viewer.

And finally the last two frames where we see the battered Johnny Friendly. We know that even though he has won this battle, he has not won the war, so to speak because of the downward angle of both shots. These are not victory shots. The first frame is dominated by longshoremen with Friendly emerging from behind the shack, a dark and tattered figure. The composition of this shot is beautiful, with Friendly at the vanishing point. Lastly, Friendly is surely defeated as we get a semi-close up of his battered face at a downward angle. There’s no looking up to this crook anymore.

3 Responses to “Terry and Johnny Fight Scene”

  1. deepthiw December 1, 2008 at 12:35 am #

    Wow, this is great! Reminds me of that awesome Laura Mulvey analysis we watched of Peeping Tom. And makes me want to see the movie–I somehow never got around to it. Did you write it for a class? Cause I know it’s not for Ideas!

    • vhasablog December 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks Deepthi! This was for my Concepts course – such a great movie 😀 it’s on youtube (playingclassics) so you can watch it anytime!

  2. atifshahzadawan December 13, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    Nice and beautiful effort, i really appreciate it.

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