Thursday, March 31, 2011

The winners of the America America (1963) Giveaway...

... as chosen by are...

On the Waterfront (Special Edition)Entry # 5 

Thomas' favorite Elia Kazan film is On The Waterfront (1954). His great grandfather brought the family over from Norway after having lots of luck playing poker in America!

Splendor in the GrassEntry #12
Kate Gabrielle of Scathingly Brilliant

Kate's favorite Elia Kazan film is Splendor in the Grass (1961). Kate has an eclectic mix of Latvian, Romanian, Welsh, Irish and Hungarian coursing through her veins!

A Face in the CrowdEntry #20
Becky of many blogs including Classic Film and TV Cafe

Becky's favorite Elia Kazan film is A Face in the Crowd (1957). Becky's face goes mysteriously green every St. Patrick's Day. Perhaps not so mysterious because her family came over to the US from Ireland in the mid-1800s. From Scotland too!

Congrats to the winners! Please e-mail me at Quellelove at gmail dot com with your information so I can send off your prize. Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway! I loved reading all the entries.

Friday, March 25, 2011

America, America (1963) Giveaway

It's giveaway time! Warner Bros. has provided me with the opportunity to give away 3 DVDs of America America (1963). You could be a lucky winner! 

You have the option of entering up to 3 times. The first entry is required and the second and third entries are optional. They just increase your chances of winning.

1. First Entry: In the comment section, tell me in a few sentences how your family came to America. And yes your family immigrated here. Even if you are 100% full blooded Native American because of the immigration over the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago. We all started somewhere else!

2. Second Entry: Follow Out of the Past on Facebook or follow @ClassicFilmRead on Twitter. Tell me which one you did in the comments section. If you already a follower, let me know in the comments too. It counts!

3. Third Entry: In the comment section, tell me which Elia Kazan film is your personal favorite and why.

Contest ends March 30th. Winner will be announced shortly thereafter! U.S participants only (the irony of that is crazy right?)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

America, America (1963)

When you give someone a glimmer of hope, they will do anything to make that hope a reality.

Inspired by the uncle who brought the Kazan family from Turkey to the United States, America, America (1963) is Elia Kazan's tribute not only to his family but to all of those other families who have left their beloved homeland with the hope of achieving prosperity in America. If you are first-generation or even second-generation American, you may be familiar with your own family's story of how they came to live in the U.S. The national identity of so many immigrants were ingrained in them that the only thing that could drive them away from their homeland was extreme desperation as a result of being in dire circumstances. Both of my parents are immigrants who became naturalized citizens of the United States. My dad is from Portugal and moved to America during the JFK administration. He grew up in a seaside town and at a very young age would sew fishing nets for local fisherman as a way to help his family make ends meet. My dad has seen war and poverty and he was once penniless and homeless on the streets of Amsterdam. He came to America knowing that here he could make something of himself. All he needed to do was work hard and have lots of determination and he could make his dreams come true. My mother is from the Dominican Republic and she was born into the dictatorship of Trujillo. That country had seen so much strife during the dictatorship and after Trujillo's assassination. My mother has seen people killed in the streets, knew how to make do with very little and had to forego school and hide in her home (oftentimes under her bed for days at a time) during US military occupation of the DR when she was 14 years old. She came to America when she married my father and both of them provided me with a life they weren't able to have in their respective countries. So watching America, America (1963) was very important for me. It reminded me of the struggle that my parents went through and made me appreciate the basic human need for happiness and prosperity.

America, America stars Stathis Giallelis as Stavros Topouzoglou, a young Greek man living in late 19th century Turkey during the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was going through a tumultuous time with Turkish soldiers oppressing Armenian and Greek citizens of the country. Stavros hears about the opportunities of America; a land in which he and his family can be safe and can make a new and happy life for themselves. Determined to make it to America and to bring his family with him, Stavros sets off to Constantinople in hopes of getting a job and earning the 130 Turkish Pounds he needs to pay for a working class ticket on a US bound vessel. Stavros tries to earn the money honestly but all the brutal obstacles he faces wear him down. What's a young man to do when his only hope seems unattainable, when his one dream is at stake and the future of his family rests on his success?

Elia Kazan took a lot of chances with this film. Here is what The Elia Kazan Collection boxed set book says about Kazan's casting of Giallelis: 

Kazan often employed inexperience locals as film extras, and some even had small speaking parts in his prior films. But Kazan took this strategy to a new extreme in America, America, casting a complete novice in the lead role of Stavros. Stathis Giallelis was discovered by Kazan in the Athens office of a Greek film producer/director - sweeping the floor. Giallelis not only lacked acting experience, he required tutoring in English. Despite this tremendous risk by Kazan, Giallelis delivered an acclaimed performance. After considering established actors in both Europe and the United States, Kzana entrusted his most personal and precious work to an absolute newcomer, because Kazan saw the story of his family and the hardship of the immigrant's journey in Giallelis.

This film isn't for everyone but I encourage you to watch it anyways. It was difficult for me to watch because of Stavros' struggle and how it lasted nearly 3 hours on screen yet I know that the real story lasted years. I don't think many film enthusiasts have given America, America enough credit for it's gripping portrayal of immigrant struggle as well as the genius behind the casting, direction and cinematography. Watch it. I hope you won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

God Speed Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
We all knew this was coming and that it was coming soon. Unfortunately, Dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning. She had been suffering from so many health problems in the past few years and they escalated recently. She's now at rest. It would have been mean for us to want her to stay with us longer so let us instead appreciate her long life and wonderfully varied film career.

Elizabeth Taylor was one of those few actresses whom we've seen at every stage of life. She started off as a child actress in well-known films as National Velvet (1944) and as a teenager in Father of the Bride (1950) (still a virginal dame just around the time of her first of many marriages). She blossomed into a stunning woman with a figure to die for, eyes that bore into your soul and with a charisma that kept audiences transfixed. I loved watching her in A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and BUtterfield 8 (1960).

When I wrote about Jane Russell's passing, I pointed how good a friend she was to Robert Mitchum. Elizabeth Taylor was a good friend to many especially troubled entertainers such as Montgomery Clift (she saved the man's life when they were in a car accident) and Michael Jackson. Yes she stole a couple of husbands along the way but for the most part she had a kind, humanitarian heart. Elizabeth Taylor had quite a life; one full of ups and downs. Now that she's passed on, let us be kind and remember her for all she contributed to film history and to entertainment culture. God Speed Elizabeth.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) at the Somerville Theatre

Carlos, Frank, Kevin and I saw The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA, a historic building in the middle of Davis Square. Built in 1914, it first started off as a theater for plays, vaudeville and other shows but since the advent of motion pictures it added films to its repertoire. Today, the Somerville theatre showcases contemporary films, live musical performances and fun shows like the annual Slutcracker (oh yes, Carlos and I went to that. Two years in a row!). What the Somerville Theatre doesn't often show is classic films. So when they announced on their Facebook page that they would be showing an archival print of The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) in March, this Robert Mitchum loving gal was so excited. 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a quiet crime caper. And no that is not an oxymoron. It takes place in my beloved Boston and it centers around criminals and detectives connected with Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum). While there are some action scenes, it's a quiet movie that focuses more on interpersonal relationships between the other characters and Eddie Coyle and the plot escalates as Coyle gets himself into deeper and deeper trouble. Coyle is an ex-con who just got out of prison but faces more jail time in New Hampshire for helping a guy from Burlington, MA smuggle some booze over state lines. He's trying to earn a lot money to get his family out of Quincy, MA and to Florida so they can live new lives and leave Coyle's criminal past behind. He simultaneously tries to make a bargain with local police detective Dave Foley (Richard Jordan) to get himself out of the NH jail time while also buying guns from a gun runner to help out a gang of robbers pull off various bank heists. Coyle thinks he's got it all figured out but there are way too many hands in the pot and things become very complicated. The film was directed by Peter Yates and also co-stars Peter Boyle. It inspired much of The Town (2010). 

Filmed in the Boston area, one of the novelties for myself and for other Bostonians is seeing all the 70s era version of our favorite Boston locations. Or seeing some long gone sites. I don't want to go into this film in too much detail because I still have a dream of writing a more in depth homage. So instead, I wanted to share some pictures of our outing to see this film on the big screen. Special thank you to Carlos, Frank and Kevin for joining me in this adventure.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle on the Somerville Theatre Marquee. If you look closely, I'm on the far right looking up at the marquee.

Here is Frank in front of the Somerville Theatre sign in the lobby.

Somerville Theatre serves beer and wine. Here's my cup o' beer and my cloche hat.

This is the inside of the Somerville Theatre.

An action shot of Kevin with his beer getting ready to enjoy the movie.

Had to get a shot of the film name in the Title Sequence. Fo sho!

I almost missed this shot because some lady wanted to sit right in front of me. No one, and I mean NO ONE gets in the way of me and Robert Mitchum.

Some more shots in front of the sign. Me, Kevin and Frank.

Carlos and I.

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