Elia Kazan: A Biography (Anglais) Relié – 8 novembre 2005
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Descriptions du produit
Revue de presse
“A scintillating and thoroughly readable new biography.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
“This sympathetic, scrupulously researched biography...vividly conveys the director’s potent personality...” (Booklist (starred review))
“[A] masterly meditation on a complex, conflicted, and underappreciated director. . . . One of the year’s best biographies.” (Library Journal)
“Schickel has a razor-sharp understanding of the many ways in which his subject’s life and work affected one another.” (Martin Scorsese)
“A worthy companion to the director’s own autobiography...immensely likeable.” (The Economist)
“A splendid, subtle, literate biography of one of the grand creative artists of theater and film in our time.” (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
“This analysis is unsparingly thorough...Schickel’s forceful, personalized criticism becomes as attention grabbing as Kazan’s body of work.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Richard Schickel has produced the first ‘life’ of Kazan...[with] an impressive knowledge of the terrain [and] soundly balanced judgments.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
“...contains not a single dull moment for those interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of theater and movies...” (New York Press)
“Outstanding....Perhaps, thanks to Schickel’s biography, history will once again remember Kazan primarily for his accomplishments, not his testimony.” (Grand Rapids Press)
“One of those exhilarating publishing rarities -- the ideal writer for the ideal subject.” (Buffalo News)
“Theater and film buffs -- not to mention scholars -- will revel in this astute explication of a working life.” (New York Sun)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Few figures in film and theater history tower like Elia Kazan. Born in 1909 to Greek parents in Istanbul, Turkey, he arrived in America with incomparable vision and drive, and by the 1950s he was the most important and influential director in the nation, simultaneously dominating both theater and film. His productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Death of a Salesman reshaped the values of the stage. His films -- most notably On the Waterfront -- brought a new realism and a new intensity of performance to the movies. Kazan's career spanned times of enormous change in his adopted country, and his work affiliated him with many of America's great artistic moments and figures, from New York City's Group Theatre of the 1930s to the rebellious forefront of 1950s Hollywood; from Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy to Marlon Brando and James Dean.
Ebullient and secretive, bold and self-doubting, beloved yet reviled for "naming names" before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Kazan was an individual as complex and fascinating as any he directed. He has long deserved a biography as shrewd and sympathetic as this one.
In the electrifying Elia Kazan, noted film historian and critic Richard Schickel illuminates much more than a single astonishing life and life's work: He pays discerning tribute to the power of theater and film, and casts a new light on six crucial decades of American history.
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Détails sur le produit
Commentaires en ligne
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Stepping back though, Schickel recognizes Kazan for the major creative force he was, well worthy of the praise heaped upon him during his lifetime. The journalist delves into how Kazan helped mold promising young actors like Marlon Brando and James Dean into legends and establish the careers of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, all doing their best work under his aegis. Kazan's best work is a slate of unsurpassable movies and plays - the stage versions of Miller's "All My Sons" and "Death of a Salesman", the stage and film versions of Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire" and transcendent films that were either socially conscious (anti-Semitism in "Gentleman's Agreement", racism in "Pinky", labor unions in "On the Waterfront") or expansions of literary works (Steinbeck's "East of Eden", William Inge's "Splendor in the Grass"). He was able to elicit memorable performances from diverse performers ranging from Tallulah Bankhead (Thornton Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth") to Andy Griffith ("A Face in the Crowd") to Natalie Wood ("Splendor in the Grass"). This is where Schickel writes lucidly about Kazan's emphasis on the essential rightness of his aesthetic, which seamlessly led characters' psychological events into personal behavior.
Yet, for all his accomplishments, Kazan is defined most by what he said that day and destroying the careers of those he named, including actor John Garfield who died of a heart attack the year after the testimony. Within personal and historical context, Schickel makes Kazan's thinking seem reasonable given his subject's brief membership in the Communist Party during his youth when Kazan worked with a radical theater troupe in the 1930s. As a committed liberal, Kazan felt betrayed by the atrocities of Stalin and his followers' ideological rigidity. With his liberal beliefs fortified by such memories, he cooperated with the HUAC's anti-Communist efforts in order to thwart Communists leading a liberal-biased agenda in Hollywood. Kazan stood by his decision even though it destroyed friendships with colleagues like Miller and Lillian Hellman. He regretted the decision later, but much of Hollywood remained unforgiving as symbolized by the 1999 Academy Awards ceremony where at least one-quarter of the star-studded audience refused to applaud Kazan's lifetime achievement Oscar. It was a sad sight but one that according to Schickel's thorough analysis, marks accurately the public and private halves of the man.
Richard Schickel, film critic for Time magazine, had the difficult task of picking and choosing which ascepts of Mr. Kazan's life to focus, which stories to tell and which stories to omit. This biography easily could have been double its 500+ pages. Mr. Schickel covers his immigrant childhood and college days rather quickly (a pity when one realizes that the overriding theme of many of his plays and movies was being an outsider, like his immigrant family). His interest is in Mr. Kazan's craft and he does credit to his artistic creations. He covers Mr. Kazan's controversial testimony of naming names during the McCarthy era of the 1950's and the equally controversial Honorary Oscar awarded to him in 1999. For a film buff, "Elia Kazan: A Biography" would make a great gift.
But first, this book gives a complete chronological analysis of his career. From his low level involvement with "The Group", a self-contained theater group with strong communist influences, to his first movie directorial debut. Kazan started as an undistinguished worker and grew to an "actor's director". This is overlaid with his involvement as a Communist and early disenchantment. Later, he is called before the committee after his great success and names former stage communists with whom he worked. The initial negative input dies down and he goes on to some of his best work including the classic, "On the Waterfront".
This book will have great appeal for movie and stage historians as it really is it is an in-depth analysis. But the main appeal to me was understanding the hysteria of the Red scare and why 50 years later it would elicit such a negative response. This book demonstrates the artists coming out of the depression influence when faith in capitalism weakened. The growth of fascism heightened the "sales pitch" to this new theory of a great life for all, communism. But, as was later proven, communism had weaknesses also causing many Americans to experiment with a form of government that was cruel and a rival of America.
It's impossible to determine how difficult it was for Kazan to name names. While he lost some friends, his career continued very successfully for some time before it faltered as it does for most in show business after a good run. But 50 years later an honor becomes a media event as modern day left-leaning actors chose to make this an issue. Interestingly, some actors such as Robert Di Nero, Martin Scorcese and Warren Beatty supported and honored Kazan. They had worked with him early in their career. I don't fault Nolte/Harris. In the prism of today's world, it's easy to ostracize a snitch. But the issue is much more complex than that. Our world was in turmoil. Decisions were made. Lives were changed on both sides. Kazan became an opponent of Communism but chose to focus on his career. Not naming names of known communists would have probably ruined his career.
In summary, this is an exhaustive critical study of his work. Frankly, the study is so exhaustive that that is the weakness. This book will be most appealing to true movie and stage history buffs. Also, those with a curiosity into the Red Scare and 1950s American history such as me will receive great information. Other than that, be forewarned this is a long time consuming educational book.