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Kazan on Directing (Vintage) Paperback – January 12, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307277046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307277046
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The late film and theater director Elia Kazan may still be vilified in some circles for naming names to HUAC in the 1950s, but there is no denying he was an important artistic force in mid-twentieth-century America. Many a seminal play and film from this period—All My Sons, A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of a Salesman, On the Waterfront, and others—has Kazan’s fingerprints on it. This fascinating book collects Kazan’s notes and journal entries associated with those seminal works as well as his notes on his productions of many lesser or, at least, less successful works by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and others, including Thornton Wilder, Archibald MacLeish, and Maxwell Anderson. From these writings we learn, for example, the extent to which Williams depended on the kindness and insight of Kazan to birth his masterpieces and also the limits of that dependence. We learn from Kazan’s journal entries how self-lacerating his criticism of his own artistic missteps could be. Also included is Kazan’s fine essay on the craft of directing, “The Pleasure of Directing,” and editor Cornfield’s extensive notes and commentary, providing a context for Kazan’s words. An invaluable resource for American theater and film aficionados. --Jack Helbig --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“To read this book is to sit with Kazan as he talks about his work. You feel his energy, devotion, and openness. You are given rare and fascinating access to the insights and techniques of a great director.” —Sidney Lumet

“Kazan stands alone in his work both on stage and screen. This book provides an excellent opportunity to deepen our understanding of Kazan’s achievements.” —Alec Baldwin

“A fascinating account of how a master director works. . . .  It is also, quite simply, a good read.” —The New Criterion
“A wonderfully conflicted yet curiously confident self-portrait of a great director.” — Los Angeles Times
“Unusually entertaining . . . It’s not just his insights, it’s the incisive way he expresses them.” —New York Observer

“This is Kazan the professional speaking, a giant of the Method spilling his secrets. . . . An indispensable resource for anyone hoping to understand the direction of actors and the differences between stage and screen. . . . Revelatory and instructive.” —Directors Guild of America Quarterly
Kazan on Directing displays Kazan’s interpretive genius at work, analyzing each major play and movie, working with writers on scripts and actors on interpretations. . . . Invaluable.” —The Providence Journal
“[Kazan] may be the most influential director of his time after Hitchcock. . . . If only every living American director would read this..” —The Buffalo News
“Remarkable. . . . A portrait of the artist in his own words. . . . A marvelous dissection and explanation of how Kazan brought to life some of America’s greatest pieces of drama, and at what personal price.” —Eric Lax, truthdig.com
“Elia Kazan possessed a treasure trove of knowledge about acting and storytelling. What a gift it is to have his ideas between covers in Kazan on Directing—a wonderful compilation of Kazan’s shrewd insights and vast experience.” —George Stevens, Jr.
“Kazan has been called the greatest actor’s director. In this illuminating book he details his methods. A must-read for everyone in show business.” —Carroll Baker
“[This] riveting book is Kazan talking to us—pushing us, lifting us, motivating us. Every student of stage and film should read it.” —Karl Malden
“[Kazan’s] experience as an actor in the Group Theatre helped train him to become one of the greatest directors of actors in the twentieth century. This amazing book demonstrates his rich understanding of the actor as an artist.”  —Ellen Adler, Stella Adler Studio of Acting
“Astounding. . . . I have never, ever read anything as clear and personal and detailed (not to mention well-written) as this book. . . . I devoured it.” —André Bishop, Artistic Director, Lincoln Center Theater

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Celeste Thoms on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
One of the best directors in film and theatre teaching what he knows. This book is nothing like most directing books that talk about various directing techniques. It's also not a book where someone else writes about Kazan directing. This book is much deeper than that. They are the notes that Kazan wrote himself and used for his plays and his movies. It's a great insightful look into his process and how he breaks down a script. You really get into his head. It's like having Kazan as a personal mentor giving you practical applications you can use, and you know they work.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Savant on July 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kazan On Directing is a must read for any director, writer or actor. It should be read again and again, serving not only as an historical account and insight into some of the greatest plays and films ever made, but as a tool for theater and film artists on how the greats work in this business. It is serves as a excellent example of how an artist's self examination, honest criticism and perspective on his or her work is essential to growth and excellence. Couldn't recommend this book more to anyone in the arts.
Tony Savant
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Order this book. You won't be disappointed. It's like sitting in a directing class with the master. You get to read his personal notes and inner feelings about working with Brando, Leigh, T. Williams, A. Miller, Malden, Steiger and more! Not just memories from an older Kazan, but his thoughts while in rehearsal or on the set. Anyone who works with actors or aspires to direct, should read this wonderful book. Definitely five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Santas on January 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rarely has a book on film said so much in so little space. First, it is mostly Kazan's voice we hear. Secondly, the book is finely organized, offering editorial comments and questions,letters from Kazan countering with his lively answers to these and elaborating on his views, separate sections as director of stage and film (the book actually comes in two parts),and the most fascinating articles/speeches Kazan ever gave, as, for instance, an address by Kazan delivered ar Wesleyan University in 1973, which covers just about everything about directing under the sun. Kazan is a "no holds barred" commentator of his own work, relating his experiences in life and in film in sometimes scorching language, managing to be entertaing and completely outspoken. There are hidden treasures everywhere about filmmaking that will make the film buff and filmmaker alike salivate with pleasure. Not to forget here a foreward by John Lahr,a Preface by Martin Scorsese, and an illuminating Introduction by Robert Cornfield, which contains the best remarks on "method acting" I have ever seen. All in all, a good read, worth all the pennies you spend on it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bob on March 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While not completely synonymous, Kazan brings the demands and the approaches to film and stage directing as close as it's ever been. It's too simple to simply label Elia Kazan an 'actors' director'. Kazan on Directing is a first step in understanding directing from the 20th century on.

-------- Robert Pond
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