September 28, 2003

HE BROUGHT THE LIGHT OF SCRUTINY:

Elia Kazan, Influential Director, Dies at 94 (MERVYN ROTHSTEIN, 9/28/03, NY Times)

Elia Kazan, the immigrant child of a Greek rug merchant who became one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history, died yesterday at his home in Manhattan. He was 94.

Mr. Kazan's achievements in theater and cinema helped define the American experience for more than a generation. For Broadway, his legendary productions included "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a Salesman." His movie classics included "On the Waterfront" and "East of Eden."

To many critics, he was the best director of American actors in stage and screen history, discovering Marlon Brando, James Dean and Warren Beatty and redefining the craft of film acting. In 1953 the critic Eric Bentley wrote that "the work of Elia Kazan means more to the American theater than that of any current writer."

Mr. Kazan was a founder and longtime co-director of the Actors Studio; a founder with Robert Whitehead of the first repertory theater at Lincoln Center; a member of the fabled Group Theater in the 1930's; the favorite director of a generation of new American playwrights, including the two most important, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller; and in his later years a best-selling novelist.

He received best-director Tony Awards for his work on two of Mr. Miller's plays, "All My Sons" (1947) and "Death of a Salesman" (1949), as well as for Archibald MacLeish's "J. B." (1959).

In Hollywood, seven of Mr. Kazan's films won a total of 20 Academy Awards. He won best-director Oscars for "Gentleman's Agreement," a 1947 indictment of anti-Semitism, and "On the Waterfront" in 1954. "On the Waterfront," a searing depiction of venality and corruption on the New Jersey docks, won eight Oscars.

Mr. Kazan also received an Oscar for lifetime achievement in 1999. The lifetime achievement award was controversial because in 1952 Mr. Kazan angered many of his friends and colleagues when he acknowledged before the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had been a member of the Communist Party from 1934 to 1936 and gave the committee the names of eight other party members. He had previously refused to do so, and his naming of names prompted many people in the arts, including those who had never been Communists, to excoriate him for decades.

Asked why he had identified others, he cited a "specious reasoning which has silenced many liberals" that ran like this: "You may hate the Communists, but you must not attack them or expose them, because if you do you are attacking the right to hold unpopular opinions."

"I'd had every good reason to believe the party should be driven out of its many hiding places and into the light of scrutiny, but I'd never said anything because it would be called `red-baiting,' " he wrote years later. "The `horrible, immoral thing' that I did I did out of my own true self."


Completely fitting for a great artist, Mr. Kazan had the last word in the naming names dustup with his magnificent film, On the Waterfront, an artwork so powerful that even those who were on the side of the murderers and goons in real life had to acknowledge its core truth: that the exposure of evil is more important than "loyalty" to one's fellows in a ciminal enterprise. Long after the names of all the blacklisted and those who testified and those named in things like the Venona transcripts are forgotten, two testaments to the time will endure: Whittaker Chambers's Witness and Mr. Kazan's Waterfront.

MORE:
-Elia Kazan (kirjasto)
-Elia Kazan (Wikipedia)
-Elia Kazan (PBS: American Masters)
-Elia Kazan (Spartacus School)

-Elia Kazan: Postage Paid (Modern Times)
-ARTICLE: Hollywood protest at Kazan's Oscar (Tom Brook, February 22, 1999, BBC)
-Washington Post: Academy Awards 1999
-ESSAY: The Legacy of the Anti-Communist Liberal Intellectuals (Ronald Radosh, Partisan Review)
-ESSAY: Elia Kazan's Towering Presence (Larry P. Arnn, Claremont Precepts)
-ESSAY: Elia Kazan: Moral Hero: Kazan should be applauded for defending individual rights by testifying against Hollywood’s communists. (Robert W. Tracinski, Ad Hoc Committee for Naming Names)
-ESSAY: Justice for Elia Kazan (Glenn Woiceshyn, March 1, 1999, Capitalism Magazine)
-ESSAY: Naming Names (Thomas Sowell, 3/19/99, Jewish World Review)
-ESSAY: A Different Waterfront (Paul Greenburg, 3/9/99, Jewish World Review)
-ESSAY: Kazan's Oscar: Not Too Late (L. Brent Bozell III, January 25, 1999)
-ESSAY: Kazan and Miller: Long, Bitter Debate From the '50's: Views of Kazan and His Critics (Richard Bernstein, May 3, 1988, NY Times)
-ESSAY: Why Elia should get his Oscar: moral and political judgments of Elia Kazan should not overshadow his art at this month's Academy Awards (Arthur Miller, March 6, 1999, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: The Forgotten Oscar (Victor Navasky, March 18, 1999, The Nation)
-ESSAY: Blacklist and Backstory: Hollywood's unexpected embrace of Elia Kazan (Jacob Weisberg, January 31, 1999, Slate)
-ESSAY: Why Elia Kazan should not receive an Oscar: By bestowing a special honor on the director, who already has won two Oscars, the academy is glossing over history. (Steve Erickson, March 1999, Salon)
-ESSAY: Hollywood honors Elia Kazan. Filmmaker and informer. (David Walsh, 20 February 1999, World Socialist Web Site)
-ESSAY: And the Winner Is -- HUAC: Elia Kazan will have the statue, but the victory belongs to the blacklist (Christopher Trumbo , 3/19/99, LA Weekly)
-ARCHIVES: READINGS IN THE AMERICAN 1950S
-REVIEW ESSAY: Seeing Red: Reviews of Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left, and the Leftover Left by Ronald Radosh, A Very Dangerous Citizen: Abraham Lincoln Polonsky and the Hollywood Left, by Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner, and Red Scared!: The Commie Menace in Propaganda and Popular Culture by Michael Barson and Steven Heller.(Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, Claremont Review of Books)

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2003 11:12 PM
Comments

For an even better description of Kazan's banishing by Hollywood's elite for "naming names", check out another book (1998) by Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, called "Hollywood Party".

It fully describes the strength of communists in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at September 29, 2003 1:02 AM

gli orifizi

Posted by: gay at April 7, 2004 3:34 AM
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