Elia Kazan

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Elia Kazan

Transcript of Elia Kazan

Elia KazanFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaElia Kazan

Elia Kazan, c. 1960

BornElias Kazantzoglou[1]September 7, 1909Constantinople,Ottoman Empire(nowIstanbul,Turkey)

DiedSeptember 28, 2003(aged94)Manhattan,New York City,United States

OccupationDirector, actor, producer, screenwriter and novelist


Spouse(s)Molly Day Thacher(m. 19321963; her death)Barbara Loden(m. 19671980; her death)Frances Rudge(m. 19822003; his death)

Elia Kazan(bornElias Kazantzoglou,Greek: ;[2]September 7, 1909 September 28, 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described byThe New York Timesas "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history".[3]He was born inIstanbul, toCappadocian Greekparents. After studying acting atYale, he acted professionally for eight years, later joining theGroup Theaterin 1932, and co-founded theActors Studioin 1947. WithRobert LewisandCheryl Crawford, he introducedMethod actingto the American stage and cinema as a new form of self-expression and psychological "realism." Kazan acted in only a few films, includingCity for Conquest(1940).[4]Kazan introduced a new generation of unknown young actors to the movie audiences, includingMarlon BrandoandJames Dean. Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He became "one of the consummate filmmakers of the 20th century" after directing a string of successful films, includingA Streetcar Named Desire(1951),On the Waterfront(1954), andEast of Eden(1955). During his career, he won two Oscars as Best Director and received an Honorary Oscar, won three Tony Awards, and four Golden Globes. Among the other actors he introduced to movie audiences wereWarren Beatty,Carroll Baker,Julie Harris,Andy Griffith,Lee Remick,Rip Torn,Eli Wallach,Eva Marie Saint,Martin Balsam,Fred Gwynne, andPat Hingle.His films were concerned with personal or social issues of special concern to him. Kazan writes, "I don't move unless I have some empathy with the basic theme."[5]His first such "issue" film wasGentleman's Agreement(1947), withGregory Peck, which dealt with anti-Semitism in America. It received 8 Oscar nominations and 3 wins, including Kazan's first for Best Director. It was followed byPinky, one of the first films to address racial prejudice against blacks. In 1954, he directedOn the Waterfront, a film about union corruption on the New York harbor waterfront, which some consider "one of the greatest films in the history of international cinema."[6]A Streetcar Named Desire(1951), an adaptation of the stage play which he had also directed, received 12 Oscar nominations, winning 4, and was Marlon Brando's breakthrough role. In 1955, he directedJohn Steinbeck'sEast of Eden, which introduced James Dean to movie audiences, making him an overnight star.A turning point in Kazan's career came with his testimony as a "friendly witness" before theHouse Committee on Un-American Activitiesin 1952 at the time of theHollywood blacklist, which brought him strong negative reactions from many liberal friends and colleagues. Kazan later explained that he took "only the more tolerable of two alternatives that were either way painful and wrong."[7]Kazan influenced the films of the 1950s and '60s with his provocative, issue-driven subjects. DirectorStanley Kubrickcalled him, "without question, the best director we have in America, [and] capable of performing miracles with the actors he uses."[8]:36[9]Film authorIan Freerconcludes that "if his achievements are tainted by political controversy, the debt Hollywoodand actors everywhereowes him is enormous."[10]In 2010,Martin Scorseseco-directed the documentary filmA Letter to Eliaas a personal tribute to Kazan.[11][12]Contents[hide] 1Early life 2Stage career 2.1Group Theater 2.2Actors Studio 3Film career 3.1Marlon Brando 3.2Karl Malden 3.3Eva Marie Saint 3.4James Dean 3.5Warren Beatty 3.6Natalie Wood 3.7Screenwriters 4Literary career 5Directing style 5.1Preference for unknown actors 5.2Topics of personal and social realism 5.3Use of "Method" acting 5.4Being an "actor's director" 6HUAC testimony 7Personal life 8Legacy 9Awards and honors 10Filmography 11Bibliography 12See also 13References 14Further reading 15External links 15.1Videos 15.2ArticlesEarly life[edit]Elia Kazan was born in thePhanardistrict of Constantinople, present dayIstanbul, toCappadocian Greekparents originally fromKayseriinAnatolia.[13][14][15]His parents, George and Athena Kazantzoglou (neShishmanoglou), emigrated to the United States when he was four years old. He was named after his paternal grandfather, Elia Kazantzoglou. His maternal grandfather was Isaak Shishmanoglou. Elia's brother, Avraam, was born in Berlin and later became a psychiatrist.[16]:21

In the play "Paradise Lost" (1937)As a young boy, he was remembered as being shy, and his college classmates described him as more of a loner.[17]Much of his early life was portrayed in his autobiographical book,America America, which he made into a film in 1963. In it, he describes his family as "alienated" from both their parents'Greek Orthodoxvalues and from those of mainstream America.[18]:23His mother's family werecottonmerchants who imported cotton from England, and sold it wholesale. His father became a rug merchant after emigrating to the United States, and expected that his son would go into the family business.[19]After attending public schools in New York, he enrolled atWilliams Collegein Massachusetts, where he helped pay his way by waiting tables and washing dishes, although he still graduated cum laude. He also worked as a bartender at various fraternities, but never joined one. While a student at Williams, he earned the nickname "Gadg," for gadget, because, he said, "I was small, compact, and handy to have around."[3]InAmerica Americahe tells how, and why, his family left Turkey and moved to America. Kazan notes that much of it came from stories that he heard as a young boy. He says during an interview that "it's all true: the wealth of the family was put on the back of a donkey, and my uncle, really still a boy, went toIstanbul... to gradually bring the family there to escape the oppressive circumstances... It's also true that he lost the money on the way, and when he got there he swept rugs in a little store."[20]Kazan notes some of the controversial aspects of what he put in the film. He writes, "I used to say to myself when I was making the film that America was a dream of total freedom in all areas."[20]To make his point, the character who portrays Kazan's uncle Avraam kisses the ground when he gets through customs, while the Statue of Liberty and the American flag are in the background. Kazan had considered whether that kind of scene might be too much for American audiences:"I hesitated about that for a long time. A lot of people, who don't understand how desperate people can get, advised me to cut it. When I am accused of being excessive by the critics, they're talking about moments like that. But I wouldn't take it out for the world. It actually happened. Believe me, if a Turk could get out of Turkey and come here, even now, he would kiss the ground. To oppressed people, America is still a dream."[20]Before undertaking the film, Kazan wanted to confirm many of the details about his family's background. At one point, he sat his parents down and recorded their answers to his questions. He remembers eventually asking his father a "deeper question: 'Why America? What were you hoping for?'" His mother gave him the answer, however: "A.E. brought us here." Kazan states that "A.E. was my uncle Avraam Elia, the one who left the Anatolian village with the donkey. At twenty-eight, somehowthis was the wonderhe made his way to New York. He sent home money and in time brought my father over. Father sent for my mother and my baby brother and me when I was four.[21]Kazan writes of the movie, "It's my favorite of all the films I've made; the first film that was entirely mine."[21]Stage career[edit]Group Theater[edit]

Kazan as a young manIn 1932, after spending two years at theYale UniversitySchool of Drama, he moved to New York City to become a professional stage actor. His first opportunity came with a small group of actors engaged in presenting plays containing social commentary. They were called theGroup Theater, which showcased many lesser known plays with deep social or political messages. After struggling to be accepted by them, he discovered his first strong sense of self in America within the "family of the Group Theater, and more loosely in the radical social and cultural movements of the time," writes film author Joanna E. Rapf.[18]:23In Kazan's autobiography, Kazan writes of the "lasting impact on him of the Group," noting in particular,Lee StrasbergandHarold Clurmanas "father figures", along with his close friendship with playwrightClifford Odets. Kazan, during an interview with Michel Ciment, describes the Group:The Group was the best thing professionally that ever happened to me. I met two wonderful men. Lee Strasberg and Harold Clurman, both of whom were around thirty years old. They were magnetic, fearless leaders. During the summer I was an apprentice, they were entertaining in a Jewish summer camp... At the end of the summer they said to me: "You may have talent for something, but it's certainly not acting."[22]Kazan, in his autobiography, also describes Strasberg as a vital leader of the group:He carried with him the aura of a prophet, a magician, a witch doctor, a psychoanalyst, and a feared father of a Jewish home.... [H]e was the force that held the thirty-odd members of the theatre together, and made them permanent.[16]:61Kazan's first national success came as New York theatrical director.[6]Although initially he worked as an actor on stage, and told early in his actin