This western begins with St. Louis resident Lutie Cameron (Katharine Hepburn) marrying New Mexico cattleman Col. James B. 'Jim' Brewton (Spencer Tracy) after a short courtship. When she ... See full summary »
Elia Kazan, ethnic Greek but Turkish by birth, tells the story of the struggles of his uncle - in this account named Stavros Topouzoglou - in emigrating to America. In the 1890's, the young, kind-hearted but naive Stavros lived in Anatolia, where the Greek and Armenian minorities were repressed by the majority Turks, this repression which often led to violence. Even Stavros being friends with an Armenian was frowned upon. As such, Stavros dreamed of a better life - specifically in America - where, as a result, he could make his parents proud by his grand accomplishments. Instead, his parents, with most of their money, sent Stavros to Constantinople to help fund the carpet shop owned by his first cousin once removed. What Stavros encountered on his journey, made on foot with a small donkey, made him question life in Anatolia even further. Once in Constantinople, his resolve to earn the 110 Turkish pound third class fare to the United States became stronger than ever. But try after try,... Written by
Director Elia Kazan narrates the main portion of the closing credits, reading the words as they appear on the screen, using complete sentences such as "The cinematography was by Haskell Wexler." See more »
While I am not sure I'd consider this to be Elia Kazan's best film, it certainly ranks up there with his best--which is saying a lot considering he's the same guy who brought us "On The Waterfront", "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Rebel Without a Cause". As for Kazan himself, this was his favorite film as it's the story of his uncle--a man who busted his butt to get himself to America around the turn of the century.
When the movie begins, Kazan himself narrates and explains that the story is about the man who is responsible for him and his family immigrating to the US. His story begins in Turkey. It's around the time in history when the Turks were about to wipe out most of the Armenians--and things for other minorities in their land (in this case, the Greeks) weren't very good either. So, a family decides to send their oldest son, Stavros (Stathis Giallelis), to Constantiople to earn his fortune--and to be able to afford to eventually bring them all to America...and freedom. Stavros is a very, very determined man...but also quite naive. Again and again, he's used by people and left with nothing. But, he's an amazingly resilient guy and soon he's willing to do just about anything to make the money he needs to take the ship to America.
While the story is rather simple, it's handled exquisitely. You can really tell that it's a labor of love, as the story unfolds very slowly and patiently. This is NOT a complaint-just a statement about the writer/director's style in the movie. It's really great what he was able to achieve with mostly inexperienced actors and non-actors. Perhaps Giallelis' performance is a bit too quiet and even stilted...but it is hard to imagine that he wasn't even an actor! Overall, it's a beautiful tale--and one of the most American of movies because it tells a story of immigration that most of us in the US can relate to. Even though my family was not Greek, so much of the rest of the film is pretty typical of what other poor families like my own probably went through on their way to a new land. Well worth seeing and a nice history lesson.
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