Saturday, February 27, 2010

Elia Kazan

"A film director has to get a shot, no matter what he does. We're desperate people."

-Elia Kazan.

That sense of desperation and struggle is a strong and on-going theme in the classic films of Elia Kazan's ouevre. From On the Waterfront to A Streetcar Named Desire to East of Eden and A Face in The Crowd, Kazan's films were driven by strife and characters acting and reacting in a state of desperation. Kazan himself said it best, "I was an outsider . . . but I was always sympathetic with people that were struggling to get up, because I struggled to get up."

Elia Kazan was born Elias Kazanjoglou to a Greek family living in Turkey on September 7, 1909. In 1913 his family immigrated to New York were his father George established his own rug business. Kazan would attend a variety of public schools in New York City and New Rochelle, New York, eventually studying drama at Yale University's School of Drama. It was in the 1930's that Elia Kazan became a member of two groups that would define the rest of his life. First, and most importantly, Kazan became a member of New York's Group Theatre where he would act alongside the likes of, Lee Strasberg, Clifford Odetts, and Stella and Luther Adler. Although, there was no way of knowing it at the time, Kazan's nineteen month involvement with the Communist Party from 1934-1936, would also have an enormous impact on his life later down the down.

By the early 1940's Kazan was one of the most prominent members of New York's theater community after having directed such plays as, The Skin of Our Teeth (1942) and One Touch Venus (1944). Kazan would have his most success near the end of the 1940's into the 1950's when he would gone on to direct, two Arthur Miller penned plays, All My Sons (1947) and Death of A Salesman (1949) and two Tennessee Williams plays, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1955).

It was also during this period that Elia Kazan would make his mark in Hollywood. In 1947 Kazan won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film Gentleman's Agreement. In 1951 he introduced the film going public to Marlon Brando in his highly regarded performance as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. He and Brando worked togther again in 1954's On The Waterfront which earned both Kazan and Brando Oscars. In 1955 Kazan would yet again introduce the public to another icon when he cast James Dean in his first lead role. He played Cal Trask in what would be the first of three films he starred in before his death at the age of twenty-four.

1952 would prove to be a difficult and ultimately life altering year for Elia Kazan. After first refusing requests to testify to the House Un-American Activities Comitte (HUAC), which was headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy, Kazan aquiesced, and appeared before the comittee to discuss his past involvement with the Communist Party. During his testimony, Kazan named eight other past or present members of the Communist Party that he knew. It would later be revealed that all eight of the people he mentioned were already suspected fo having Communist sympathies by HUAC. Because of his cooperation with HUAC, Kazan earned many enemies in Hollywood, and when the Academy elected to honor Kazan with an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, many celebrities and former blacklisted people in the business expressed a great outrage.

Despite the backlash, Kazan would continue to direct both films and theater until his retirement in 1976. During his career he would earn three Academy Awards, five Tony Awards, and countless other festival and critics awards. On September 28, 2003 Kazan died in New York at the age of 94.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

waking in the same skin

The thirst I felt
after a night of sin
to those dusks to dawns
before, after, again.

She and I,
listening to Yardbird Suite.

Trying to understand
what this
coming together,
really means.

Why on this chilly winter night,
did I find she?

she, I?

To end up naked and entwined

sifting through what memories we have left
of pasts we both wish to forget.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

of good intentions

Her secret identities
Erotic salutations written on thank you cards

Hot rush of blood
She thinks of me every afternoon
Moments shrouded in secrecy

I can see her amongst the wildflowers
beside a river that doesn't move
The sun, a flashing image in the peripheral.

Declarations of love
in the same breath as the goodbye.
Don't know where I'm going,
how long I'll stay.

Heaven is the answer when there's no one else to call
when everything that once was,
is gone.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

on an afternoon in the park

She tells me of
Russian women
in fur lined bras,
expressing their thoughts
on the beauty of pregnancy.

A parade
of nameless young men,
just made into common soldiers,
passing shoulder to shoulder,
marching to their monumental deaths.

Hell, rising up and raining down.
The entire world smelling of
burnt flesh and nightmares.

The reality of emptiness
the only state of existence
still understood.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

honolulu nocturne

The story is hidden in angular lies.
Truths shimmer like the stars
that lead the way.

Ours was the kinda of love,
that begins with a misunderstanding
and ends with a kiss goodnight.

Ours was the kind of love,
that was full of mistakes
and short on good intentions.

From somewhere in the shadows,
a man sings a Honolulu nocturne
that drives away any and all sadness.

Ours was the kind of love,
that can only be healed by the blues.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

expiration of sound

That moment when the clock stops.
Everything goes silent.

Breathe in the morning,
exhale the density, the weight of another night bitter spent.

That moment between inhaling and exhaling.
Everything begins again.

She kisses me with fingers crossed behind her back.
I open myself to misguided hopes and dreams.

I surrender to a thousand might have beens.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the letters that she wrote

I saw it in her eyes for the first time. No matter what he tried to do to make her happy it would never be enough. Behind her creative force was a destructive energy, and all the romantic weekends, and kinky sex would never satisfy the desire that drove her to states inspiration at great heights. So I continued to watch her from across an ocean with my telescope by day, deciphering the secret love letters she wrote to me by night. Each one always ended,

I will hunt you and haunt you.

Give and take.

Love always,