Directed by Eli Kazan
I finally got to watch Eli Kazan’s first film, which due to some mysterious licensing snafu has never been available on NetFlix.
What a shame. This wonderful piece of theater just adds to Kazan’s amazing canon and legacy. That it’s his first effort in cinema makes it even more remarkable, but by that time Kazan was experienced in stage direction, and two years later would go on to found the Actors Studio.
There is no doubt that Kazan tops the list of American film directors (although closely followed by Billy Wilder), and “Tree” just confirms his genius with actors.
This immigrant story is right in his wheelhouse, as his own history coming to this country from Greece feeds the script with authentic sentiment. Working with child actors might seem easy, but getting believable performances from inexperienced players must require patience and a deep understanding of the craft.
Relationships are what drive Kazan, and his ability to create tension and drama can reach Shakespearean heights.