America America (1963)

174 mins | Drama | 15 December 1963

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writer:

Elia Kazan

Producer:

Elia Kazan

Cinematographer:

Haskell Wexler

Editor:

Dede Allen

Production Designer:

Gene Callahan

Production Company:

Athena Enterprises
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HISTORY

The 1 Mar 1962 DV announced that film and theater director Elia Kazan recently completed his first screenplay, The Anatolian Smile. Seven Arts Productions was providing $1.25 million to finance the project, to be filmed in Turkey and Greece. Kazan stated that it would be the first U.S. production to use Turkey as a location. Three weeks later, the 21 Mar 1962 Var reported that Kazan was scouting locations in both countries. He also completed a novelization, published later that year by Stein & Day, titled America America. Kazan told the 1 Oct 1962 NYT that the book evolved from a series of notes he was compiling for the screenplay, based on stories of his uncle’s immigration to the U.S. nearly seventy years earlier. On 23 Sep 1962, NYT reported that the novel had earned enough money in residuals to ensure financial solvency for Stein & Day by the end of the year. According to the 29 May 1962 NYT, Kazan left his post as director of the Actors Studio to devote all his time to the picture.
       Kazan told the 15 Dec 1963 NYT that he conceived the project five years earlier, when he was overcome by a "sense of urgency" about recording his father's stories of the family's immigration to the U.S. from Greece and Asia Minor. Despite their cooperation, neither of the filmmaker's parents approved the endeavor, which Kazan attributed to their "uneasy recollections of the Turks." He traveled to Athens, Greece, hoping to interview people who had fled Turkey in ... More Less

The 1 Mar 1962 DV announced that film and theater director Elia Kazan recently completed his first screenplay, The Anatolian Smile. Seven Arts Productions was providing $1.25 million to finance the project, to be filmed in Turkey and Greece. Kazan stated that it would be the first U.S. production to use Turkey as a location. Three weeks later, the 21 Mar 1962 Var reported that Kazan was scouting locations in both countries. He also completed a novelization, published later that year by Stein & Day, titled America America. Kazan told the 1 Oct 1962 NYT that the book evolved from a series of notes he was compiling for the screenplay, based on stories of his uncle’s immigration to the U.S. nearly seventy years earlier. On 23 Sep 1962, NYT reported that the novel had earned enough money in residuals to ensure financial solvency for Stein & Day by the end of the year. According to the 29 May 1962 NYT, Kazan left his post as director of the Actors Studio to devote all his time to the picture.
       Kazan told the 15 Dec 1963 NYT that he conceived the project five years earlier, when he was overcome by a "sense of urgency" about recording his father's stories of the family's immigration to the U.S. from Greece and Asia Minor. Despite their cooperation, neither of the filmmaker's parents approved the endeavor, which Kazan attributed to their "uneasy recollections of the Turks." He traveled to Athens, Greece, hoping to interview people who had fled Turkey in 1923. A trip to Istanbul followed, during which Kazan was briefly treated as a celebrity. Due to heavy censorship of the Turkish media, Kazan limited his public statements to "Hollywood gossip." He claimed it was during this visit that he often heard the name of his adopted country spoken as "America America." To secure location filming, Kazan endured several conferences with a committee that insisted on approving every detail of the production. On his final day in Istanbul, the committee chairman surprised Kazan by begging the filmmaker to help him and his son immigrate to the U.S.
       Among the first actors to audition for the film were Peter Falk (11 May 1962 DV), Greg Roman (14 May 1962 DV), and Tommy Sands (29 May 1962 DV). The 23 Jan 1963 issue noted the casting of Leonard George.
       The 15 Jun 1962 DV announced the official title as America America. One week later, DV reported that Seven Arts was negotiating with renowned painters Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Bernard Buffet, to supply artwork for advertising and publicity.
       After holding auditions in Athens, Greece, Kazan chose aspiring actor Stathis Giallelis for the lead role. Giallelis told the 7 Apr 1963 LAT that he spoke no English at the time, and relied on Kazan’s knowledge of the Greek language to communicate. Although he saw promise in the young man’s performance, Kazan was concerned that Giallelis would not be able to learn English in time for the start of production. The filmmaker invited Giallelis to New York City to perfect his English, and supplied him with an apartment. Giallelis took a job in a restaurant as a dishwasher, determined to remain in the U.S. After approximately one month, Giallelis auditioned in English, performing a scene from the play, Golden Boy. He then rehearsed with Kazan for two hours every day until he won the role. The article noted that Giallelis was the only native Greek in the cast. Principal photography was scheduled to begin 28 Jul 1962 in Istanbul, Turkey, as stated in the 25 Jul 1962 NYT. Locations included Sultanahmet Square.
       According to the 25 Nov 1962 NYT, Istanbul locations included the Bosporus and Golden Horn districts, neither of which had changed noticeably since the 1890s. After ten days of shooting in Turkey, Kazan moved the company to Athens, Greece, in mid-Aug 1962, where the bulk of filming was completed. Among the 100 locations used were a vacant storefront that served as a rug shop, a private home that was converted into a brothel, and an abandoned factory that housed interiors for "a Turkish raki house, a foundry, a roadside tavern and inn, a village square and a military hospital." Other Greek locations included a mountain near the Kleiston monastery in Parnitha, twenty-one miles from Athens, and the resort town of Vouliagmeni, approximately fifteen miles from the city. Filming also took place aboard the Marianna, a "20,000-ton motorship" that carried the cast and crew into the eastern Mediterranean Sea, where they were threatened with gale-force winds. A news item in the 21 Sep 1962 LAT noted that Kazan had frequent encounters during his travels with people claiming to be relatives, but determined only those who mentioned some person or incident from family lore to be authentic. Production charts in the 31 Aug 1962 DV revealed that the project had been taken over by Warner Bros. Pictures. On 28 Nov 1962, DV announced that the final scenes of the picture, which were set in Istanbul, would be filmed in California. The 8 Jan 1963 issue reported that the company had relocated to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA. Stathis Giallelis was expected the next day from New York City, where filming had also taken place. Additional California locations included San Pedro and the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Bishop. The 21 Jan 1963 DV noted that Kazan was scouting locations near Mexico City, Mexico. According to the 8 Feb 1963 edition, the cast and crew returned from Bishop that day to resume filming in Burbank.
       Kazan told the 29 Jan 1963 NYT that he found it "eerie" to direct his own screenplay, and soon began to think of himself "in the third person." Although the director had a reputation for revising the work of other writers, he made no changes to his own screenplay.
       The 11 Jan 1963 DV noted that composer Manos Hadjidakis wrote four songs for the picture.
       On 13 Nov 1963, DV announced the 15 Dec 1963 world premiere at the Paris Theatre in New York City. The film opened 25 Dec 1963 in Los Angeles, CA, at the Beverly Theatre. The 3 Dec 1963 DV noted that a preview screening at the Directors Guild Theatre in Los Angeles was telecast on KCOP, hosted by Bill Burrud. According to the 23 Dec 1963 issue, studio president Jack L. Warner attended the "invitational screening," where he claimed that the journey portrayed in the film paralleled his own family's emigration from Poland. Reviews were generally positive, with the 16 Dec 1963 DV declaring America America “the outstanding motion picture achievement” of 1963. It was listed among the ten best pictures of the year in both the 29 Dec 1963 issues of LAT and NYT , and named best picture by Film Critics Circle of the Hollywood Foreign Press, as noted in the 11 Mar 1964 Var.
       The film garnered four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture; Director; Writing, Story and Screenplay—Written Directly for the Screen; and Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White. It won in the latter category. Golden Globe awards included Best Director and Most Promising Newcomer—Male (Stathis Giallelis), along with nominations for Best Motion Picture—Drama, Best Actor—Drama, Best Supporting Actress (Linda Marsh), Best Supporting Actors (Paul Mann and Gregory Rozakis), and Best Film Promoting International Understanding. The film won a Blue Ribbon Award from Boxoffice magazine, was nominated for Directors Guild of America (DGA) and Writers Guild of America (WGA) awards, and was named picture of the month by the Mar 1964 edition of Seventeen magazine.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Mar 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 May 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 May 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
29 May 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Jun 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
15 Aug 1962
p. 7.
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1962
p. 7.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Jan 1963
p. 6.
Daily Variety
21 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1963
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1963
p. 18.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Dec 1963
p. 10.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 1963
p. 2, 3.
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Dec 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Jan 1964
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
23 Aug 1962
p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
21 Sep 1962
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1963
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 1963
Section B, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
7 Apr 1963
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1963
Section E, p. 15.
New York Times
29 May 1962
p. 33, 63.
New York Times
3 Jun 1962
p. 64.
New York Times
25 Jul 1962
p. 28.
New York Times
23 Sep 1962
p. 307.
New York Times
1 Oct 1962
p. 28.
New York Times
25 Nov 1962
p. 165.
New York Times
29 Jan 1963
p. 5.
New York Times
15 Dec 1963
p. 123.
New York Times
16 Dec 1963
p. 42.
New York Times
29 Dec 1963
p. 47.
Variety
21 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Variety
11 Mar 1964
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Lyrics
SOUND
Sd mix
Re-rec mix
Ch sd ed
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod asst
Set construction
Liaison in greece for athena enterprises
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel America America by Elia Kazan (New York, 1962).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Anatolian Smile
Release Date:
15 December 1963
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 December 1963
Los Angeles opening: 25 December 1963
Production Date:
began 28 July 1962
Copyright Claimant:
Athena Enterprises
Copyright Date:
22 February 1964
Copyright Number:
LP29435
Duration(in mins):
174
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Stavros Topouzoglou, a young Greek, decides to emigrate to America when one of his closest friends is murdered for standing up to Turkish oppression in 1896. As a preliminary step, he journeys to Constantinople in order to join his cousin Odysseus' rug business. His parents, Isaac and Vasso, planning to join their son later, entrust him with the Topouzoglou valuables; but Stavros is robbed on the way by Abdul, a dishonest Turk who previously befriended him. He later avenges the theft by killing Abdul but reaches his cousin's home penniless and disgraced. Odysseus advises Stavros to capitalize on his good looks by marrying a wealthy woman, but Stavros refuses to jeopardize his trip to America. Instead, he joins a group of revolutionaries and is seriously wounded during a raid. After a short affair with Vartuhi, one of the conspirator's daughters, Stavros reconsiders his cousin's suggestion and becomes engaged to Thomna Sinnikoglou, the homely daughter of a rug dealer. He finds that he cannot go through with the marriage, however, and accepts only a fraction of the large dowry offered by Thomna's father--just enough money for a boat trip to America. A day before the ship's departure, Stavros meets Sophia, the wife of American rug buyer Aratoon Kebabian. They have an affair aboard ship, but the romance is quickly aborted when the furious Aratoon discovers them and promises to have the young Greek deported to Turkey. Stavros hides from the authorities but realizes that the most important dream of his life will probably be shattered. His despair over the certain deportation has driven him near the point of nervous collapse when he meets Hohanness Gardashian, a young Armenian who is ... +


Stavros Topouzoglou, a young Greek, decides to emigrate to America when one of his closest friends is murdered for standing up to Turkish oppression in 1896. As a preliminary step, he journeys to Constantinople in order to join his cousin Odysseus' rug business. His parents, Isaac and Vasso, planning to join their son later, entrust him with the Topouzoglou valuables; but Stavros is robbed on the way by Abdul, a dishonest Turk who previously befriended him. He later avenges the theft by killing Abdul but reaches his cousin's home penniless and disgraced. Odysseus advises Stavros to capitalize on his good looks by marrying a wealthy woman, but Stavros refuses to jeopardize his trip to America. Instead, he joins a group of revolutionaries and is seriously wounded during a raid. After a short affair with Vartuhi, one of the conspirator's daughters, Stavros reconsiders his cousin's suggestion and becomes engaged to Thomna Sinnikoglou, the homely daughter of a rug dealer. He finds that he cannot go through with the marriage, however, and accepts only a fraction of the large dowry offered by Thomna's father--just enough money for a boat trip to America. A day before the ship's departure, Stavros meets Sophia, the wife of American rug buyer Aratoon Kebabian. They have an affair aboard ship, but the romance is quickly aborted when the furious Aratoon discovers them and promises to have the young Greek deported to Turkey. Stavros hides from the authorities but realizes that the most important dream of his life will probably be shattered. His despair over the certain deportation has driven him near the point of nervous collapse when he meets Hohanness Gardashian, a young Armenian who is one of eight indentured shoeshine boys on his way to New York. Just as Stavros' chances for escape seem more remote than ever, Hohanness, who is dying of tuberculosis, jumps over the side of the ship and drowns himself, thereby permitting Stavros to use his name and take over the shoeshine job. The young Greek reaches America at last and begins saving money to bring his family to join him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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