Three weeks of Elia Kazan

James Dean in EAST OF EDEN

Before starting a new film, Elia Kazan would buy a small school notebook and then fill it over the course of the production. Those notebooks have since been collected and compiled for the recently published “Kazan on Directing.” In support of the book release Film Forum is hosting three weeks of Kazan’s finest work, but I don’t need a book or a screening series as an excuse to revisit some of my favorite films of all time. There are certain movies you simply have to show in a Kazan retrospective like the Marlon Brando vehicles A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and ON THE WATERFRONT. My favorite will probably always be SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, which I saw for the first time at the same age Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty are supposed to be and never fails to leave me bawling at the end.

Eli Wallach plays a super creep in BABY DOLL (playing tomorrow) and Gregory Peck goes undercover as a Jew (“Dark hair, dark eyes…it’s a cinch!”) to expose anti-Semitism in Hollywood in GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT. Film Forum is closing the series with Kazan’s last film, THE LAST TYCOON with Robert DeNiro (the Pinter adaptation of an unfinished Fitzgerald novel cast with a veritable bevy of stars) and what many critics claim is his best work, WILD RIVER with Monty Clift.