The Elia Kazan Conundrum
Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton, co-hosts of the ABC’s At the Movies, recently visited the Wheeler Centre to speak about the Elia Kazan film On the Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando, for our Texts in the City series. During their presentation, Stratton described the film as “nothing more or less than a justification for betraying your friends”.
In a profile of on the Waterfront’s director Elia Kazan published late in 2010, John Lahr wrote, “Between 1945 and 1962, onstage and on the screen, Kazan was, by his own admission, ‘the most successful director at work in America.’ A sort of entrepreneur of emotional complexity, he had a gift for releasing the articulate energy of actors and for turning psychology into behavior”.
Elia Kazan remains one of the most controversial figures in the history of cinema. He was undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s greatest and most influential directors. He was also willing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952, identifying friends and colleagues he knew to have been members of the Communist Party, and destroying their careers in the process.