America, America

Synopsis: 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,
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Elia Kazan
Production: Warner Home Video
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 11 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
174 min

My name is Elia Kazan.

I am a Greek by blood,

a Turk by birth...

and an American,

because my uncle made a journey.

This story was told me over the years

by the old people in my family.

They remember Anatolia, the great

central plateau of Turkey and Asia.

And they remember the mountain,

Erciyes, standing above the plain.

Anatolia was the ancient home

of Greek and Armenian people.

But 500 odd years ago, the land

was overrun by the Turks...

and from that day the Greeks

and Armenians lived here...

but as minorities.

The Greek subject people.

The Armenian subject people.

They wore the same clothes

as the Turks...

the fez and the sandal...

ate the same food,

suffered the heat together...

used the donkey for burdens.

And they looked up

to the same mountain...

but with different feelings...

for, in fact, they were conqueror...

and conquered.

The Turks had an army.

The Greeks and the Armenians

lived as best they could.

But the day came, here in Anatolia,

as everywhere there's oppression...

when people began to question.

There were bursts of violence,

sudden and reckless.

People began to wonder,

and some to search for another home.

You say in America they have

mountains bigger than this?

In America, everything's bigger.

What else? What else in America?

What are we waiting for?

Come on you, let's go you,

with the help of Jesus.

We better sell this ice

before it melts.

The year is 1896.

A Turkish provincial governor

has called...

an emergency meeting of his council.

Be seated,

be seated, please.

Your glasses, Governor.

This came an hour ago,

over the wire from the capital.

Your Excellency...

On this day, the eve of our

national feast of Bayram...

Armenian fanatics have

dared to set fire...

to the National Turkish Bank

in Constantinople.

It is the wish of our Sultan...

Abdul Hamid the Resplendent,

the shadow of God on earth...

that the Armenian subject people

throughout his empire...

be taught, once and for all,

that acts of terror...

cannot be tolerated.

Our Sultan has the patience

of the Prophet...

but he has now given signs

that he would be pleased...

if this lesson were impressed,

once and for all...

upon this dangerous minority.

How this is to be effected

will be left to Their Excellencies...

the governors of each province...

...and to the army post commanders

stationed in each provincial capital.



Help yourself, sir,

help yourself.


bring something.

Sir, Your Honour...

help yourself, sir,

help yourself.

That's what he needs,


But, Your Honour...

What do you want?

Not I, the ice,

it's nature is to melt.

It does not consider we have to go

all the way to the market to sell it.

In plain language,

you want me to hurry?

If you would.

All right now?

You had too much of a load

for this dear old horse.

Now, she'll get you to market

more quickly, agreed?

Yes, sir, agreed.

Are you Armenian?

Greek, sir, Greek.

Where do you live?

Over that hill.

And you?

Down below.

-And you are?



Did he have anything to do with

burning the bank in Constantinople?

Why do you smile?

You are joking.

How could we have been there

yesterday? It's two weeks' journey.

Even with this horse?

Captain Mahmed.

-How do you know my name?

-We served together 8 years ago.

That is, I served you, and you

served your Sultan, Abdul Hamid...

the shadow of God on earth.

I was your orderly, so naturally

you've forgotten me.


I stole chickens for you.

Vartan, you!


-I didn't recognise you.

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Elia Kazan

Elia Kazan (; born Elias Kazantzoglou; September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003) was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history".He was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), to Cappadocian Greek parents. After attending Williams College and then the Yale School of Drama, he acted professionally for eight years, later joining the Group Theatre in 1932, and co-founded the Actors Studio in 1947. With Robert Lewis and Cheryl Crawford, his actors' studio introduced "Method Acting" under the direction of Lee Strasberg. Kazan acted in a few films, including City for Conquest (1940).Noted for drawing out the best dramatic performances from his actors, he directed 21 actors to Oscar nominations, resulting in nine wins. He directed a string of successful films, including A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), and East of Eden (1955). During his career, he won two Oscars as Best Director, three Tony Awards, and four Golden Globes. He also received an Honorary Oscar. His films were concerned with personal or social issues of special concern to him. Kazan writes, "I don't move unless I have some empathy with the basic theme." His first such "issue" film was Gentleman's Agreement (1947), with Gregory Peck, which dealt with anti-Semitism in America. It received 8 Oscar nominations and 3 wins, including Kazan's first for Best Director. It was followed by Pinky, one of the first films in mainstream Hollywood to address racial prejudice against black people. In 1954, he directed On the Waterfront, a film about union corruption on the New York harbor waterfront. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), an adaptation of the stage play which he had also directed, received 12 Oscar nominations, winning 4, and was Marlon Brando's breakthrough role. In 1955, he directed John Steinbeck's East of Eden, which introduced James Dean to movie audiences. A turning point in Kazan's career came with his testimony as a witness before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 at the time of the Hollywood blacklist, which brought him strong negative reactions from many liberal friends and colleagues. His testimony helped end the careers of former acting colleagues Morris Carnovsky and Art Smith, along with ending the work of playwright Clifford Odets. Kazan later justified his act by saying he took "only the more tolerable of two alternatives that were either way painful and wrong." Nearly a half-century later, his anti-Communist testimony continued to cause controversy. When Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1999, dozens of actors chose not to applaud as 250 demonstrators picketed the event.Kazan influenced the films of the 1950s and '60s with his provocative, issue-driven subjects. Director Stanley Kubrick called him, "without question, the best director we have in America, [and] capable of performing miracles with the actors he uses." Film author Ian Freer concludes that even "if his achievements are tainted by political controversy, the debt Hollywood—and actors everywhere—owes him is enormous." In 2010, Martin Scorsese co-directed the documentary film A Letter to Elia as a personal tribute to Kazan. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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