Director Dissection with Seanc and Rauldc


Ahh thanks, sounds good, and easy too. I had an Kazan film on my short list for 1940s Hof. I've seen most of his films, he didn't make that many. Though I still have a few to watch and would love to rewatch all of them.
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Just give us a Kazan film you would like us to watch.

We have already decided on 4:
On the Waterfront
Streetcar Named Desire
Gentleman's Agreement
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

We will then discuss the films and all things Kazan.
Mighty fine list of films there! I've seen them all, but only once and really would enjoy a rewatch

Kazan has a lot of great films. Making it hard to choose from, so my pick is one of Kazan's personal favorites, Wild River (1960).

I seen it for the first and only time a few months ago and was very impressed with it and have wanted to see it again.

Montgomery Clift is excellent, so is Jo Van Fleet, who was the mother in East of Eden. Lee Remick is really good in this too.

I'll kick this off by saying I've seen 6 Kazan films. On the Waterfront is a top 25 movie for me. And I really loved East of Eden. Streetcar Named Desire has insanely good performances and I look forward to the rewatch. The other three I've seen are the Crowd, Gentleman's Agreement, and Splendor in the Grass.

I have only seen 4 so far. Streetcar is an all timer for me that I was blown away by last year. Waterfront is the only one I saw before coming to Mofo, and I have watched it once since. Both times I thought it was phenomenal until the third act where it loses me quite a bit. I will go into more detail on that with this watch. I will probably breakdown and order the Criterion this week. I have been eyeballing that baby for a while now. Eden and Face In The Crowd were both really solid 3.5 for me. Definitely movies I will seek out again in the future.

I've seen these:

A Tree Grows in of my personal favorites. This is the type of movie I love, bitter-sweet, reflective, with lots of humanity, that make me think about life. I'm a big fan of Joan Blondel too, mostly from her earlier work in the 30s.

A Streetcar Named Desire
...Very powerful and another fav. I've wanted to see this one again, ever since I rewatched Waterloo Bridge.

Wild River...I think there's a lot to like here, it's based on several true stories and filmed on location in the Tennessee Valley. Hope you guys like it.

A Face in the Crowd
...I rated this a 5/5

Baby Doll
...this is not what it might appear to be, there's a lot more going on than just Sue Lyon, but...she's real good in it.

East of Eden...Well you guys know what I think of this

On the Waterfront...I'm glad you guys picked this, I seen it once long ago, I liked it but wasn't blown away. So I need another watch

Viva Zapata!...My wife liked this one, I thought it was good to OK. It's another Brando movie.

Gentleman's Agreement
The Sea of Grass
Splendor in the Grass
....Seen these but don't remember much.

Panic in the Streets
....A pair of good noirs, one with Richard Widmark the other Dana Andrews.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I must say that this was a very captivating movie. The movie did have certain lulls and at one point felt like it would fall flat head the end, but the ending was especially beautiful. I won't go to into detail with it now since Sean hasn't seen it yet but there are certainly some very heartwarming scenes near that ending. The acting is what drives this movie. Peggy Ann Garner gave an amazing childhood performance and the other performances were very good as well. I liked Dorothy McGuires performance the second most probably. James Dunn's performance really grew on me. At the beginning of the film I wasn't so sure, but he had a special charm to him when all was said and done. For an early film, there's certainly some heavy scenes in here. The camera work is beautiful and it seems like that is a constant standout feature of Kazans. I see this film being a contender for my 40s list.


Glad you liked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I've seen it but I don't remember it, not even the ending. I remember the movie was, like you say heavy for a older 40s film. I'm 'getting' the film now and will watch it real soon.

Peggy Ann Garner was a child actresses who's especially good in Jane Eyre the Orson Welles version. Orson didn't direct that one. She plays the young Jane Eyre.

I haven't even thought about my 40s countdown list. I know it's going to be very hard for me to whittle down all these greats to just 25 movies.

I remember really loving A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, it's been a long time so a rewatch was needed. I hope to see it tonight, but if not in the next day or two.

A Streetcar Named Desire

I got a lot out of this on my third viewing. This is why I like doing these director things. You can clearly see that Kazan is fantastic at getting the best out of his actors and actresses. It's just amazing to me this movies core 4 were all nominated for their performances. Vivien Leigh's performance as Blanche is an all-timer. Every time she is on the screen she commands presence. She feels like she has become her character, you can't even tell that it is acting. Brando is equally as good and he was robbed of an Oscar in my opinion. Hunter and Malden were also great. Kazan takes a very famous screenplay and makes it come alive on the big screen. It's quite a treat to watch. I can certainly see why this is Sean's favorite Kazan and it undoubtedly deserved the praise that it has gotten. They just don't act like this anymore.


You are killing me in viewing brother. I need to get to Gentleman's tonight.

Gentleman's Agreement

Finally got to my first viewing for our five film journey. This was my choice from the Kazan's I haven't seen. Reading the synopsis I thought the themes would be right up my alley. They were. The story is very cool, and really relevant if you look at of through the lens of Muslim rhetoric that is going on right now. Unfortunately for me the script didn't match the theme. There really just isn't any bite to the conflict. With the exception of a couple scenes the conflict is just tidied up too neatly at every turn. It makes the movie drag a bit and really makes the romance angle, which is too big of a factor in this, irrelevant.

I really don't have much to say about the visuals here. The first two scenes of the movie had me worried I would hate the visuals. Luckily the way he shot these scenes didn't continue so I was not distracted by it. Other than that this film basically looks like any TV show of the time. That's not a bad thing for me. I love being blown away by visuals but when they are simply ordinary I don't mind.

Peck probably saves this from being a total dud for me. He is one of a handful of actors that the more I see of him, the more I like him. He is the type of presence that commands every scene. I enjoyed watching this because of the stated themes and Peck's presence.

I already know that I like two of the movies we are going to watch a great bit more than this. So I am not the least bit worried this will lessen my overall thoughts or enjoyment of Kazan.

Gentleman's Agreement, I haven't rewatched it yet,butI have seen it before. My reaction was pretty much like Sean's...I wasn't blown away by the movie's themes, though I expected it to be powerful. But a lot of movies that dared to deal with racial/bigotry issues in the 40s did so with a lite hand. Greg Peck is the man! I know I say that about some classic actors, but he's one of my favorites. It's interesting it has Dorothy McGuire, she is also in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I did watch last night and will post something about it, pronto!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I've watched crappy movies almost every night for a 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.
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I feel the same way about Gentleman's Agreement Sean, maybe a rewatch will change my opinion though. I am glad you love A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Citizen. I think Sean will like it too!

Raul, how did you feel about Joan Blondell as Aunt Sissy? As much as I like her in comedies I thought she broke the tone of the movie and made it seem less serious.