There were many great priests in Hollywood films (Bing Crosby, Spencer Tracy) but none, to my mind, as affecting as Karl Malden in On the Waterfront. He had the ferocious zeal of true faith in his eyes; if you were ex-boxer Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando), who could have been a contender, you'd sooner take on Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) and ten of his mob cronies than think of messing with Malden.
Left: Malden, Brando, and Eva Marie Saint in On the Waterfront
Malden was nothing if not versatile. In 1962, he played opposite Roz Russell in the musical "Gypsy"; a mere year earlier, he played the gunfighter who betrays comrade Brando in "One-Eyed Jacks" (1961), the western Brando directed. Malden was a great foil -- as, for example, the reasonable general Omar Bradley trying his hardest to restrain the headstrong George C. Scott as General George "Old Blood and Guts" Patton in that eponymous movie.
Click here for Robert Berkvist's obituary in the New York Times.