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Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey (1995)

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 ... See full summary »

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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 kingnoel_john

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14 August 1995 (USA)  »

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(Turner library print)

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Informative look at Elia Kazan and his films...
15 June 2009 | by See all my reviews

Elia Kazan talks about the movies he made and what they mean to him. Film clips are shown of early Kazan as a film actor, mainly in clips from Warner Bros. melodramas of the hard-hitting kind about social conflicts featuring the kind of brooding, intense, explosive acting that he grew up on as a member of the Group Theater in NYC.

But he confesses that he always had his eye on Hollywood even though his roots began in the theater. He finally got his wish when assigned to direct A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, a touching drama of family life in the tenements of Brooklyn from the novel by Betty Smith. He's especially fond of the young Peggy Ann Garner and credits her chemistry opposite screen dad James Dunn for making the film a great success.

He loved the screen version of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE but admits that he thought the theater version was even better. Clips from BOOMERANG, VIVA ZAPATA, ON THE WATERFRONT (famous expose of mob controlled docks), EAST OF EDEN, BABY DOLL, A FACE IN THE CROWD (too much footage from this one to illustrate the manic ambition behind Andy Griffith's folksy charm), WILD RIVER (he's ecstatic over Jo Van Fleet's dedication to her age make-up), SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (great fondness for writer William Inge and his story about the force of repression). He tells how he loves the final scene of SPLENDOR with Natalie Wood returning to the home of her former sweetheart who has married a local farm girl and appears to be content. I agree on that one--it is a touching conclusion to a very moving story of unrequited love.

And then, finally, clips from his favorite film (but he hastens to add, not his best), America, America because it's a story of his uncle's family roots.

Informative but lingers too long on some films I'd rather not contemplate that much about--especially A FACE IN THE CROWD which goes on endlessly in a number of annoying clips.

For Kazan fans--otherwise, not that engrossing.


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