A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
I've watched crappy movies almost every night for a week...so watching A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
was a real treat for me. It had been a while since I seen it too. I wanted to pay attention to the director type stuff (compositions, scene length, stuff like that) but the film quickly swept me up in it's story and the lives of the family.
A few times I did manage to force myself to think about how the film was shot, and I was totally impressed. The opening scene of any movie is important as it establishes the themes for the movie. That's why it's also called the establishing scene.
The first thing we see is the crowded streets of turn-of-the century Brooklyn and the children gathering rags to make a few pennies.....But there's so much joy in their hearts, as they race around finding scraps, that we can see that even though they're poor, they're indeed rich in life's experiences. And that's what the film is about and that's a theme that resonated with me.
I loved the father daughter relationship, it was very heartfelt and moving and done well. James Dunn won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, he deserved it. He played the father with a loving quality that's hard to get on the screen. But what got me was the real pain you could see in his eyes when he knew he couldn't provide all the things he wanted to give his family, especially his daughter. And Peggy Ann Garner was one helluva a child actor. She really conveyed a deep love for her dad and for the dreams that make life worth living, she seemed wise beyond her years and yet still a kid.
I loved the way Elia Kazan decked out the streets of Brooklyn. I assume that's on a studio back lot, but he really loads in the details, same for the run down apartment. It looked real to me.
The shot of the apartment courtyard where all the women are clankering at the man who's fixing their laundry poll, was a thing of beauty, very cool crane shot. I don't usually think of Elia Kazan as a visual director, but more of a social-humanist director....but here he captured the spirit of the poor, but lively lives of second generation immigrants so well.
I'd give this a 5/5 but, as much as I like Joan Blondell in 1930s comedies and musicals, I think she was miscast and didn't fit the movie.