77 Great Directors: Elia Kazan

“So it goes in America: great plans in youth, realism at the end.”

What Got This Director Here?
: On the Waterfront/Streetcar.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

What Did I Watch: Gentleman’s Agreement.

Where Does He Fit: Gentleman’s Agreement has some weak defenders due to the fact that it was directed by Eliza Kazan and the 1947 Best Picture lineup is not one that inspires deep seated passions, but even the director and Gregory Peck would go on to agree that it looks horribly dated in its attempts to address anti-Semitism, so I say let’s treat it with the respect it was afforded once it reached a minimally ripe age. It’s a horribly dull movie where nothing really happens that feels realistic (there’s a blatant metaphor that is outright stated in the opening two minutes), but there are some aspects that I very much like in that “oh thank god this exists on the edges” way. Peck’s performance is terrible and I cannot summon up much appreciation for his fellow leading nominee Dorothy McGuire (a shame, she’s spectacular in Tree Grows in Brooklyn), but the weird uneasiness in their relationship is definitely something of interest even if Peck’s disguise as a Jewish person is hilariously terrible thanks to him inserting statements like “Well, speaking as a Jewish person…” into his speech. Holm and Revere are pretty great and deserved their own central focus. Shame about the fact that everyone in this movie is a raging anti-Semite, though.


Most Valuable Asset: Skill with actors.
Most Excited For: East of Eden.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: Melodramatist Douglas Sirk.


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