Kazan Redux Resumes!

Nope, I’m not a movie fan by any stretch of the imagination (especially Star Wars movies! πŸ˜–), however, I’ve been a student of film and theater director, Elia Kazan (1909-2003), for fifty years. Some of you younger readers may have never heard of him, but back in the late-1940s and 1950s, Kazan was widely considered to be the most influential film and theatrical director in the United States. Many of the topics he tackled in his movies and plays were very controversial at the time. Kazan loved to expose the foibles and hypocrisies of humanity/society and I enjoy culling spiritual lessons and applications from his material.

I had previously reviewed all of Kazan’s nineteen films over the period of December 2016 to December 2017. If you blog long enough, you’re liable to repeat yourself, so in January 2020 I got the bug to re-watch and re-review all of Kazan’s films, but I only got as far as #11, “East of Eden,” back in July. What prompted the long pause? I forget, but my email inbox has been flooded with demands to get back on track! 🀭 Not!

One of my blogging resolutions for 2021 is to resume the Kazan Redux series where I left off and finish the eight remaining films. Hopefully, I’ll publish the first of the re-reviews next week. Once I’m done with this series, folks, I seriously don’t foresee a Kazan re-redux series down the road.

Below are handy links to my 2020 Kazan Redux re-reviews of the director’s first eleven movies:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) – 5 Stars – A family clings to hope despite the ravages of alcoholism – featuring Dorothy McGuire, James Dunn, Joan Blondell, and Peggy Ann Garner

The Sea of Grass (1947) – 2 Stars – A cattle baron competes with homesteaders – Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Melvyn Douglas, and Robert Walker

Boomerang (1947) – 4 Stars – A district attorney resists pressures to prosecute an innocent man – Dana Andrews, Jane Wyatt, Lee J. Cobb, Arthur Kennedy, Cara Williams, and Karl Malden

Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) – 4 Stars – A Gentile journalist feigns a Jewish identity in order to expose anti-Semitism in the U.S.A. – Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, Celeste Holm, and John Garfield

Pinky (1949) – 4 Stars – A bi-racial woman navigates bigotry in the Deep South – Jeanne Crain, Ethel Waters, and Ethel Barrymore

Panic in the Streets (1950) – 5 Stars – A New Orleans medical examiner must stem a virus outbreak before it turns into an epidemic – Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Walter (Jack) Palance, and Zero Mostel

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) – 5 Stars – A distraught and desperate Southern Belle enters into what she believes is a safe harbor only to discover it’s a cobra’s den – Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, and Kim Hunter

Viva Zapata! (1952) – 4 Stars – A Mexican revolutionary fights for the peasantry – Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, and Anthony Quinn

Man on a Tightrope (1953) – 4 Stars – A ramshackle circus attempts to escape Soviet Eastern Europe – Fredric March, Terry Moore, Gloria Grahame, and Cameron Mitchell

On the Waterfront (1954) – 5 Stars – A longshoreman takes on his corrupt union – Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and Rod Steiger

East of Eden (1955) – 5 Stars – A rebellious son tries to win the affection of his unloving father – James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet

28 thoughts on “Kazan Redux Resumes!

  1. A few of those titles look very familiar!
    Just a little funny-my maiden name is Griffith -people use to ask me all the time if I was related to him! Lol! Maybe somewhere down the line (hopefully through the Blood of Jesus!)! I did use to tell people if they needed to remember my last name to remember Andy Griffith! He was a worldly big deal back in the day!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, Andy Griffith was so beloved across the entire USA because of his Sheriff Andy Taylor character. Relatively few people know about his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd” in which he played a very despicable character, Lonesome Rhodes. It’s the exact opposite of his “good guy” Andy Taylor persona.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t! Did not know he played a role like that!
        (Sorry I’m on my third day of having my beautiful grandchildren and typing too fast πŸ˜ƒ)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Enjoy you grandkids!

        Yeah, it’s kind of disconcerting to see Andy play such a dastardly character since he was stereotyped as the warm and friendly Sheriff Taylor.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The movie only covers the last-third of the book, which focused on the conflict between Cal and his father. Kazan had a very difficult relationship with his own, very stern father so was attracted to that portion of the story.

      Yesterday was kind of slow so I was able to sit at a computer and review and even complete much of the new-hire benefits red tape. I was also able to complete a lot of mandatory online training. But the three 12 hr-days definitely “knock me out.” Yesterday, I envisioned sitting on the couch all day today, but I’m doing fine. Had a long walk this AM and I’m about to go do my workout.
      Thanks for asking! How was your weekend?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you’re doing ok! It was a nice weekend, got stuff done which is always a good thing! I won’t lie, I have anxiety this week. No worries, I know God is in control and to seek Him. I pray that God prepares us to depend on Him even more to deal with what’s next.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a movie fan, and I do enjoy most of Kazan’s films, particularly his classics, “Streetcar” and “On the Waterfront.” I also enjoy “East of Eden.” Though “Gentlemen’s Agreement” won the Oscar for best picture, it was kind of sappy, but I imagine groundbreaking for the time.

    Much thanks for the change of pace, Tom!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, David! Glad to know someone else out there in the blogosphere appreciates Kazan. “Gentleman’s Agreement” was blatantly soap-boxy. Peck ranted throughout most of the film. Hard to figure why his girlfriend was attracted to him. Years later, Kazan wrote a lot about how he was dissatisfied with the movie. However, I give Zanuck and Kazan credit for confronting some “controversial” social issues of that era.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. πŸ‘πŸ» Have a good time!

        By the way, on the local news tonight they mentioned ROC has had only 15 inches of snow to date compared to 58 inches last year at this time. We’re getting more and more like SoCal.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the enjoyable diversion from depressing world events. But you know my personal favorite is America, America. But your choices are classics. Good to hear from you Tom, I hope all is well at home and your new job.
    Press on brother!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa Beth. This post just recaps my re-reviews of Kazan’s first eleven films. I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing “America America” again, probably in May, as I finish the series with Kazan’s last eight movies. “America America” is such an interesting film that few know about.
      Doing well, Lisa Beth. Thanks! And I hope you and yours are doing well, also.

      Liked by 1 person

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