Elia Kazan was one of the greatest Hollywood and Broadway directors. A three-time Academy Award winner, five-time Tony Award winner and winner of Best Dramatic Film at Cannes, he was also ...
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Elia Kazan was one of the greatest Hollywood and Broadway directors. A three-time Academy Award winner, five-time Tony Award winner and winner of Best Dramatic Film at Cannes, he was also one of the most controversial, respected and reviled men ever to work in film. Written by
Richard Schickel's documentary about the life and career of Elia Kazan features the director on camera discussing all of his movies (or at least most of them) and Eli Wallach doing the narration. Kazan starts off talking about some of his early dreams of becoming a director and how he started acting just to get into the business. From here we learn about his success on Broadway and films, which we hear stories about the making of A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, VIVA ZAPATA, ON THE WATERFRONT, EAST OF EDEN, BABY DOLL, A FACE IN THE CROWD, THE WILD RIVER, SPLENDER IN THE GRASS and America, America. The director's final three films aren't mentioned, which is a shame but he does talk about why he got out of the business. For the most part this is a pretty interesting documentary. Like most of Schickel's work, he allows the director to tell the stories and this at least gives us some memorable stories. These include Kazan's feelings on GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT and lets just say that he doesn't care for the movie too much. Other stories discussed include Marlon Brando's nature and acting style, the best way to audition actors, working with James Dean, what Anthony Quinn brought to VIVA ZAPATA and his wonderfully funny thoughts on the priest who tried to get BABY DOLL banned. Overall this is an entertaining look at Kazan's career, mostly because you get to hear stories from the man himself. This, along with the recently made film by Martin Scorsese, are a good introduction to the controversial director.
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