Edge of the City
What's it About
Army deserter Axel Nordmann (Cassavetes) is lucky to find work down at the New York City docks, but crooked foreman Charlie Malik (Warden) skims his pay in return for silence about his fugitive status. Axel befriends fellow dockworker Tommy (Poitier), who is happily married to Lucy (Dee). Her best friend Ellen (Maguire) takes an interest in Axel, and all four become close. The bigoted Malik can't stand to see Tommy chummy with a white colleague and baits him into a fight. Axel must stand up for what is right even though he risks having his past exposed.
Why we love it
Director Ritt, recently off the blacklist, directs the first of his many socially conscious films that would eventually include "Sounder" and "Norma Rae." Poitier's grounded, sympathetic portrayal of Tommy brought him that much closer to stardom, a first for a black actor. He shares real chemistry with soon-to-be-director Cassavetes, who is appropriately angst-ridden as the wary, unlucky Axel. In portraying an interracial friendship of equals, "Edge" was truly groundbreaking, and today still stands tall as a gripping, hard-hitting drama.