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Elia Kazan, ethnic Greek but Turkish by birth, tells the story of the struggles of his uncle - in this account named Stavros Topouzoglou - in emigrating to America. In the 1890's, the young, kind-hearted but naive Stavros lived in Anatolia, where the Greek and Armenian minorities were repressed by the majority Turks, this repression which often led to violence. Even Stavros being friends with an Armenian was frowned upon. As such, Stavros dreamed of a better life - specifically in America - where, as a result, he could make his parents proud by his grand accomplishments. Instead, his parents, with most of their money, sent Stavros to Constantinople to help fund the carpet shop owned by his first cousin once removed. What Stavros encountered on his journey, made on foot with a small donkey, made him question life in Anatolia even further. Once in Constantinople, his resolve to earn the 110 Turkish pound third class fare to the United States became stronger than ever. But try after try,... Written by
Estelle Helmsley, who plays the Greek grandmother, was actually an African-American actress. See more »
[Apologetically to Stavros]
From time to time I've had to do things that... well, we live by the mercy of the Turk, but, Stavros, I've always kept my honor safe inside me... safe... inside me... and you see we're still living. After a time you don't feel the shame.
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Director Elia Kazan narrates the main portion of the closing credits, reading the words as they appear on the screen, using complete sentences such as "The cinematography was by Haskell Wexler." See more »
"America, America" deserves a modern audience but is almost impossible to find. I just viewed a VHS version obtained through the inter-library loan program. I live in Virginia and it was sent down from Alaska!
This film should be required viewing for anyone interested in understanding why the huddled masses flocked to America but it is highly personalized and focused on a young man from a middle class Greek family with a big dream that seems impossible to fulfill. Another reviewer correctly likened Stathis Giallelis to a young Brando for his overpowering individuality, determination, and (for Turkish society in 1900) swagger. But when his character Stavros grows a mustache, he becomes a young Omar Sharif. AA is brilliantly written and directed by Elia Kazan.
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