Baby Doll

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Elia Kazan, Tennessee Williams
  • Writers: Tennessee Williams
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, Eli Wallach

In the Mississippi Delta, failing, bigoted, middle-aged cotton gin-owner Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Malden) has been married to pretty, empty-headed 19-year old virgin Baby Doll Meighan (Carroll Baker) for two years. Archie impatiently waits for Baby Doll’s 20th birthday just a few days away when, by prior agreement with Baby Doll’s dying father, the marriage can finally be consummated. In the meantime, Baby Doll still sleeps in a crib, wearing childish shorty-nightgowns and sucking her thumb, while Archie spies on her through a hole in a wall of their decrepit antebellum mansion, “Fox Tail”.

Archie’s competitor, Sicilian Silva Vacarro (Eli Wallach), who owns a newer and more modern cotton gin, has taken away all of Archie’s business, and Archie retaliates by burning down Vacarro’s gin. Suspecting Archie as the arsonist, Vacarro plans his revenge: he will pursue and seduce Baby Doll and terrorize her into signing an affadavit admitting her husband’s guilt.[4][5][6][2]

Splendor in the Grass

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Elia Kazan
  • Writers: William Inge
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie, Barbara Loden, Zohra Lampert

Deanie Loomis (played by Natalie Wood), a teen-aged girl living in a small town in Kansas in 1928, follows her mother’s advice to resist her desire for sex with her boyfriend, Bud Stamper (Warren Beatty), the scion of the most prosperous family in town. In his turn, Bud reluctantly follows the advice of his father (Pat Hingle), who suggests that he find another kind of girl with whom to satisfy his sexual desires.

Bud’s parents are disappointed by, and ashamed of, his older sister Ginny—she is sexually promiscuous, smokes, drinks, and has had an abortion—and accordingly “pin all their hopes” on Bud, pressuring him to attend Yale University.

Bud does find a girl who is willing to become sexually involved with him, and when Deanie finds out, she is driven close to madness and institutionalized. Bud’s family loses its fortune in the Great Depression, which leads to the father’s suicide; and Bud takes up ranching, which he had postponed because of his father’s aspirations for him.

In the final scene, Deanie, home from the asylum after two and a half years, goes to meet Bud. He is now married to Angelina, the daughter of Italian immigrants; he and his wife, whom he met while complying with his father’s desire that he attend Yale, have an infant child and are expecting another one. After their brief reunion, Deanie and Bud see that they must continue their lives separately.

East of Eden

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Elia Kazan
  • Writers: Paul Osborn, John Steinbeck
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: James Dean, Raymond Massey, Julie Harris, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, Jo Van Fleet

The story is set in 1917, during World War I, in the central California coastal towns of Monterey and Salinas. Cal (Caleb) (James Dean) and Aron (Richard Davalos) are the young adult sons of a modestly successful farmer and wartime draft board chairman named Adam Trask (Raymond Massey). Adam is a deeply religious man. Cal is moody and embittered by his belief that his father loves only Aron.

The Trask family has a farm in the fertile Salinas valley. Although both Cal and Aron had been led to believe that their mother had died “and gone to heaven”, the opening scene reveals that Cal knows that his mother is still alive, owning and running a successful brothel.

After the father’s idealistic plans for a long-haul vegetable shipping business venture end in a loss of thousands of dollars, Cal decides to enter the bean-growing business, as a way of recouping the money his father lost in the vegetable shipping venture. He knows that if the United States enters the war, the price of beans will skyrocket. Cal hopes this will finally earn him the love and respect of his father. He goes to his mother Kate (Jo Van Fleet) to ask to borrow the capital he needs. She reluctantly lends him the five thousand dollars.

The old man then suffers a stroke, which leaves him paralyzed and unable to communicate. Cal tries to talk to him, but gets no response and leaves the bedroom. Abra pleads with Adam to show Cal some affection before it is too late. Then she drags Cal back into the room. When Cal makes his last bid for acceptance before leaving town, his father manages to speak. He tells his son to get rid of the annoying nurse and not to get anyone else, but to stay and take care of him himself.

A Streetcar Named Desire

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Charles K Feldman
  • Writers: Tennessee Williams
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

As in the play, the film presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask delusions of grandeur and alcoholism. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others, but most of all herself, from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives from their hometown of Auriol, Mississippi (Laurel, Mississippi in the play) at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in the Faubourg Marigny of New Orleans, on Elysian Fields Avenue; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire”. The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Explaining that her ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Auriol, Mississippi, has been “lost” due to the “epic fornications” of her ancestors, Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. Blanche explains to them how her supervisor told her she could take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. This turns out not to be the only seduction she has engaged in—and, along with other problems, has left Auriol to escape. A brief marriage scarred by the suicide of her spouse, Allen Grey, has led Blanche to live in a world in which her fantasies and illusions are seamlessly mixed with her reality.

Devastated with her sister’s fate, Stella weeps and rejects Stanley’s intention to comfort her and pushes him away. As he cries her name once more (“Stella! Hey Stella!”), Stella clings to her child and vows that she will never return to Stanley again. She goes upstairs to once again seek refuge with her neighbor.

On the Waterfront

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Writers: Budd Schulberg
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger

This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) gloats about his iron fisted control of the waterfront. The police and the Waterfront Crime Commission know that Friendly is behind a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb (“D&D”), submitting to their oppressed position rather that risk the danger and shame of informing. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a dockworker whose brother Charley (Rod Steiger) is Friendly‘s lawyer. Some years earlier, Terry had been a promising boxer until Friendly had Charley instruct Terry to deliberately lose a fight that he could have won, so that Friendly could win money betting on the weaker opponent. As the film begins, simpleminded Terry is used to coax a popular dockworker out to an ambush, preventing him from testifying against Friendly before the Crime Commission. Terry resents being so used in the murder but is still willing to remain D&D. Terry meets and is smitten by the murdered dockworker’s lovely sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint), who has shamed “waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) into fomenting action against the union/mob. Soon both Edie and Father Barry are urging Terry to testify. Another dockworker who agrees to testify after Father Barry’s promise of unwavering support, but Friendly arranges for him to be crushed by a load of whiskey in staged accident.

As Terry, tormented by his awakening conscience increasingly leans toward testifying, Friendly decides that Terry must be killed unless Charley can coerce him to keep quiet. Charley tries bribing Terry with a plum job, and finally threatens him, but recognizes he has failed to sway Terry, who places the blame for his own downward spiral on his well-off brother. In one of the most famous scenes in movie history, Terry reminds Charley that if it had not been for the fixing of the fight, “I coulda been a contender.” Charley gives Terry a gun and advises him to run. Friendly has been spying on the situation, so has Charley murdered, his body hung in an alley as bait to get at Terry. Terry sets out to shoot Friendly, but Father Barry obstructs that course of action and finally convinces Terry to fight Friendly by testifying. In a final face-to-face confrontation with Friendly, Terry is finally getting the upper hand in a vicious brawl but is beaten nearly to death by Friendly’s goons. The dockworkers declare support of Terry, and only commence work when Terry forces himeself to enter the dock. Friendly is defeated as the controller of the longshoremen.