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Elia Kazan

ENGL 292.601
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major


This course will examine the films of the towering and controversial director, Elia Kazan. Directing from the 1930s to the 70s, Kazan brought a new realism and intensity of performance to film.  As Scorsese notes, “Kazan extended the limits of what was emotionally and psychologically possible… the beginnings of what you could call the modern style of American moviemaking.”  A major director of stage and screen, co-founder of the Actor’s Studio, Kazan is regarded—at least by those who forgave him for naming names in the HUAC 1950s--as one of the most important directors in American film, an actor’s director and a director’s director: no easy feat. Part of an American artistic elite during the creative, tumultuous stretch of the 1930s to 50s, Kazan’s films feature stunning cinematography, skillful use of sound, brilliant plotting, and ground-breaking performances from such actors as Marlon Brando and James Dean. Kazan  dwelled like no other on American social problems, sexual subtexts, and psychological truths.  His films are works of art.  Some of the better known are On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden,  Face in the Crowd, Gentleman’s Agreement,  Panic in the Streets, Splendor in the Grass, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.