Kazan at the bloody crossroads

In the fall 2005 issue of City Journal Harry Stein reviewed the career of the distinguished director Elia Kazan: “Justice to Elia Kazan.” Kazan was of course the original director of “Death of a Salesman” as well as the director of such great films as “On The Waterfront,” “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “East of Eden.”

Kazan’s directorial work inspired his actors to wring every ounce of emotion and then some out of their roles. When Warren Beatty stood up for Kazan at the Academy Awards ceremony in which Kazan received his long overdue recognition for lifetime achievement (discussed by Stein), Beatty stood apart from the Hollywood herd that shunned Kazan in tribute to what Kazan had done for Beatty in “Splendor in the Grass.” He made Beatty look like a serious actor. Stein’s essay focused on the bloody crossroads where art and politics met in Kazan’s career.

Richard Schickel published his new biography of Kazan in the fall of 2005, around the same time that Stein’s essay was published. The current issue of the Weekly Standard includes Charlotte Allen’s review/essay on Schickel’s book and the Standard has posted it this morning: “Truth teller.”

It was Norman Podhoretz who first made me think about “the bloody crossroads” where art and politics meet in his 1986 book of that name. My mentor Jeffrey Hart celebrated Podhoretz’s “magnificent book” on the subject in a review for National Review: “Grand return.”

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