Edge of the City

Director: Martin Ritt
Screenwriters: Robert Alan Aurthur

Institute History

  • 1989 Sundance Film Festival


The same Cassavetes street hood we saw in Crime in the Streets, but older, less sure of himself, and making an effort to become a human being. An obvious melodrama, virtually a remake of On the Waterfront, Edge of the City nevertheless fascinates through the power and grace of Sidney Poitier’s performance, and the canny intensity of Cassavetes. Cassavetes chooses to play a starring role like a character part, never allowing the audience to like him easily.

Here, even within the bounds of this expanded teleplay, Cassavetes the actor makes the same choices he will soon make as a director: to push the limits of each moment, never cloy for sympathy, play against expectations, and be as naked as the form permits. But no critic at the time praised this as a stringent new aesthetic in American performance. Not finding the leeway to explore the filmic consequences of his stance in conventional film, Cassavetes would soon turn the explorations of his acting workshop into Shadows.

— Tony Safford

Screening Details

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