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There are classic films, and then there are those rare few that warrant the “classic classic” label, such as Elia Kazan’s 1954 On the Waterfront. After unwittingly becoming an accomplice to the murder of an acquaintance, former prizefighter Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) begins to question his ties with a crooked local longshoreman’s union. He also begins a tenuous relationship with the dead man’s sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint in a a highly naturalistic film debut), and wrestles with the voice of his conscience in the form of hard-bitten priest Father Barry (Karl Malden), who tries desperately to instill some backbone in the complacent dockworker. Brando owns every frame of this film, his slightly slurred language and vulnerable gait evincing a portrait of an average palooka struggling to find a way out of a larger-than-life moral dilemma. The film screens as part of “A Tribute to Elia Kazan” at 2:45, 5, 7:15, and 9:30 p.m. (see Showtimes for other dates) at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Jason Powell)