VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 3 CATEGORY: Periodicals POSTED ON: 6/11/2010
Here he regales his authence with a list of all a director needs to know: literature, opera, the American musical, acrobatics, "the banana peel and the custard pie," the fine arts, dance, classical and popular music, costuming, lighting, "the City" (complete with "its cathedrals and its whorehouses"), topography, animals, the handling of neurotics, the psychology of authences, the erotic arts, pornography, war. Gratuitous broadsides and digs against such diverse targets as Orson Welles, Walt Disney, his fellow director Harold C lurman, and Clurman's wife, the acting guru Stella Adler, leave a bad taste. SANDWICHED between those tributes and the "Pleasures" diptych are 200plus pages of selections from Kazan's autobiography, notebooks, journals, letters, and other such sources, along with pertinent bits and pieces by Kazan's collaborators and the occasional critic.
A ners of the actor and director will expect this and understand and not resent what- House Un-American Activities Commit- tee, but let’s not go there. Disheveled ever develops,” he advises. “The part- ner can be sure of one thing. The relation- Yet the book gets off to a good start with a Foreword by the distinguished Scrapbook ship between director and player will not last.” drama critic John Lahr that provides a masterful overview of Kazan’s personali- Other nuggets: There is no such thing ty, methods and achievements. In addi- Kazan on Directing as realistic theater. A film script is more tion, there is a glowing Preface by film By Elia Kazan architecture than literature. When you director Martin Scorsese. “He is one of Knopf. are the director, everything is your fault. the most important figures in the history 341 pp. $30.00. It is better to be bold than careful. The of movies,” Scorsese declares. “It’s that Reviewed by actor’s life experience is the director’s simple. His documentary eye, his ability Matthew Gurewitsch material. “Just getting a ‘good actor,’ an to home in on the subtlest behaviors and able technician of the stage or screen, is interactions, his sense of surprise and Contributor, New York “Times,” not enough. You will end up with a British beauty within the frame, his remarkable “Smithsonian”; online at film.” “The Fountain of Youth is in your- ear for sound, his astonishing sensitivity beyondcriticism.com self.” Don’t take taxis. to atmosphere . . . these were just a few UMMING UP one’s life in art is no pic- There is zest, too, in throwaway remi- of his gifts as a filmmaker. For me, Kazan S nic. The director Elia Kazan, in his late 70s, found the job impossible. Maybe niscences, like the one about the camera- man Leon Shamroy (known to his crew is beyond ‘important,’ ‘central,’ or ‘influ- ential.’ I grew up watching his pictures, he waited too long. After serving as mid- as “Grumble-gut”). He never bothered to and they were instrumental in forming wife to playwrights like Arthur Miller, read a shooting script and would show up my ideas of cinema, what it was and what Tennessee Williams and William Inge, he every morning wanting to know, “What’s it could be. They were equally instrumen- had walked away from the theater in 1964. the garbage for today?” tal in helping me to understand myself, I His career as auteur of such celluloid The balance of the closing section think.” classics as A Streetcar Named Desire, is given over to Kazan’s talk “On What ANDWICHED between those tributes On the Waterfront, East of Eden, Splen- dor in the Grass, and America America Makes a Director,” delivered at Wesleyan University in 1973. Here he regales his au- S and the “Pleasures” diptych are 200- plus pages of selections from Kazan’s had come to an end in 1976 with The Last dience with a list of all a director needs to autobiography, notebooks, journals, let- Tycoon. (He liked that French word, with know: literature, opera, the American mu- ters, and other such sources, along with its intimations of total control.) In 1983 sical, acrobatics, “the banana peel and the pertinent bits and pieces by Kazan’s col- he had attempted something new; but custard pie,” the fine arts, dance, classical laborators and the occasional critic. All of The Chain, a gloss on the Oresteia, was a and popular music, costuming, lighting, this has been selected and annotated by total write-off
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