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Director’s Cut

Martin Scorsese’s nominations for best performance in an Elia Kazan film.

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Marlon Brando once wrote of Elia Kazan—the man who made him a star in the stage and film versions of A Streetcar Named Desire—that he had “never seen a director who became as deeply and emotionally involved in a scene … he [once] got so wrought up that he started chewing on his hat.” Kazan was famously known as an actor’s director—some say the best ever—which he credited to starting as an actor himself. (He went on to co-found the Actors Studio, home of the Method technique.) In all, Kazan directed nineteen films—winning Best Director Oscars for Gentleman’s Agreement and his masterpiece, On the Waterfront—and launched the careers of Brando, James Dean, Eva Marie Saint, and Warren Beatty, among others. He favored unknowns, for their pliability and because they didn’t undermine the gritty, issue-driven stories he preferred. Kazan insisted on collaboration with his actors, but he was also a master manipulator, doing just about anything necessary to get the performance he wanted. As Kazan is quoted in the book Elia Kazan: Interviews: “I made them run around the set, I scolded them, I inspired jealousy in their girlfriends … You don’t deal with actors as dolls. You deal with them as … poets to a certain degree.” The results enraptured a boy who grew up to be one of the superstar directors of the next generation, Martin Scorsese. His A Letter to Elia, a documentary tribute, is included in the new boxed set “The Elia Kazan Film Collection,” which includes five films never before released on DVD.

The Elia Kazan Film Collection
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. $199.98.


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