Elia Kazan


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Elia Kazan
Elias Kazantzoglou
Birthday
BirthplaceConstantinople, Ottoman Empire (present-day Istanbul, Turkey)
Died
Occupation
Director, actor, producer, screenwriter and novelist

Kazan, Elia

(ĭlī`ə, ēl`yə kəzăn`, –zän`), 1909–2003, American stage and film director, producer, writer, actor, b. Turkey, as Elia Kazanjoglous. Immigrating with his Greek family to the United States in 1913, Kazan studied at Williams College and the Yale Drama School before beginning his acting career with the New York Group Theatre in the 1930s. He became (1947) a founding member and director of The Actors StudioActors Studio, The,
organization founded 1947 in New York City by the directors Cheryl Crawford, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis to train professional actors. Long directed (1948–82) by Lee Strasberg and famous for its advocacy of the Stanislavsky "method" technique, the
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. In 1952, appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, he admitted to membership in the Communist party in the 1930s and named eight other Hollywood figures who were also members, an act that was controversial throughout the rest of his life.

Kazan's outstanding stage productions included The Skin of Our Teeth (1942), All My Sons (1947), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947; film version, 1951), Death of a Salesman (1949), and Tea and Sympathy (1953). He was the most important director to bring the realistic, emotionally charged approach and "method" acting style of the mid-20th-century New York theater into American moviemaking. Kazan won best-director Oscars for Gentlemen's Agreement (1947) and On the Waterfront (1954) and an honorary life's achievement Academy Award in 1999. Among his other major films are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), Viva Zapata (1952), East of Eden (1955), A Face in the Crowd (1957), and Splendor in the Grass (1961). He also directed the films America, America (1963) and The Arrangement (1969), adapted from his own 1962 and 1967 novels, parts of a fictional series that also includes The Anatolian (1982) and Beyond the Aegean (1994).

Bibliography

See his autobiography (1988); Kazan on Directing (2009); A. J. and M. J. Devlin, ed., The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan (2014); M. Ciment, Kazan on Kazan (1974), J. Young, ed., Kazan: The Master Director Discusses His Films (1999); biography by R. Schickel (2005); M. Scorsese, dir., A Letter to Elia (documentary film, 2010).

Kazan, Elia

 

Born Sept. 7, 1909, in Constantinople. American film director, Greek by nationality.

Kazan graduated from the Yale University drama school and from 1932 to 1939 was an actor and director in the progressive Group Theater in New York. He made his film debut as an actor in 1940 and then as a director in 1945 with the film A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In this film, as well as in Boomerang, Gentleman’s Agreement (both 1947), and Pinky (1949), Kazan focused on critical social problems, such as the bad conditions of workers, corruption in the American judicial system, anti-Semitism, and racism. However, he proposed compromising solutions that worked to the advantage of reactionary circles. In his films of the 1950’s, such as A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata (1952), and East of Eden (1955), Kazan continued to focus on real problems, such as the disintegration of the human personality, social protest, and the ruin of the bourgeois family. Kazan saw the flaws of bourgeois society simply as a product of the biological nature of man. Kazan’s autobiographical America, America (1962) was his most famous film of the 1960’s. In 1972 he made the film The Visitors, which dealt with the moral decay, animosity, and cruelty of those who took part in America’s criminal imperialist aggression in Vietnam.

V. A. UTILOV

Kazan, Elia (b. Elia Kazanjoglous)

(1909–  ) stage and film director; born in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey. His family emigrated to New York City when he was four. He studied at Williams College and Yale University, and began as an actor on Broadway and in Hollywood. With Lee Strasberg, he founded the Actors Studio in New York in 1947. He directed his first stage play in 1935 and began directing feature films in 1945 with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and was to divide his time between New York and Hollywood until 1964. Kazan's films often had a social or political theme—anti-Semitism and racism, megalomania, corruption—and he was known for getting actors to perform at levels they could not match before or after. He won two Academy Awards as best director for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and On the Waterfront (1954), but his own favorite movie was Viva Zapata (1952), which he considered his first true film. In later years he turned to writing fiction.
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Lingering resentment of its director, Elia Kazan, for his Great Betrayal in 1952, may have cost the movie who knows how many votes among the Hollywood insiders chosen by AFI to cast ballots.
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Radical drama, some of it put on by the New Deal's own Federal Theater, was producing a rich crop of future film talent, from Clifford Odets, Elia Kazan, and Jules Dassin to John Garfield and (among the child actors) Sidney Lumet.
Like the five other volumes in the series published thus far, Williams offers a continuous history of the play from its first production -- in this case, the famous Elia Kazan Broadway premiere on 3 December 1947, with an emphasis on the collaborative efforts of the three individuals who made Streetcar an instant classic: the playwright; Kazan, the director; and Jo Mielziner, the lighting and set designer.
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Also in this very special issue of THR is a piece on the private correspondence of director Elia Kazan.