January 1, 2006

THE CONTENDER:

UNCOVERING KAZAN (ARNOLD BEICHMAN, January 1, 2006, NY Post)

Richard Schickel, Time movie critic, film historian and biographer of Brando, Clint Eastwood and D. W. Griffith, is a daring writer, especially because his book must compete with Kazan's own 1988 memoir "A Life," which Janet Maslin said "remains arguably the best show-business memoir ever written." Even so, Schickel has done a superb job of depicting an era in the American theater and brilliantly narrating the life of the artist who dominated that era.

The most important political event in Kazan's life — for himself, his friends and the American public — is that he named names. When asked by a congressional committee to disclose the members of his cell during a short-lived enrollment in the Communist Party, he obliged.

For this act, he was pilloried by America's liberal and fellow-traveling bien pensants. Of course, as Schickel points out, the same bien pensants would have pilloried Kazan if, had he been a member of the Nazi Bund, he had refused to name names.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2006 12:00 AM
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