Tag Archives: Elia Kazan

Reviewed: “Panic in the Streets, “The Waiting Room”

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Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought ‘I wish I could go and see a good movie about public health tonight?’ Well, guess what — this week you have not one, but two, movies to choose from that satisfy that very desire. One’s fiction, the other a documentary, and both are highly recommended.

Elia Kazan’s 1950 problem picture Panic in the Streets (screening at Pacific Film Archive at 6:30 pm on Sunday, October 21) was produced in an era when most Americans believed government was the solution, not the problem. The problem in this case is pneumonic plague, introduced into the United States via a stowaway on a rat-infested merchant ship.  … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Baby Doll

Carroll Baker and Eli Wallach snuggle suggestively in "Baby Doll"
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The utterance of the words ‘virgin’, ‘mistress’, and ‘seduce’ were enough to get Otto Preminger’s film The Moon is Blue banned in Boston in 1953. Three years later, however, things went from bad to worse for the Legion of Decency upon the release of director Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll, which — while avoiding its predecessor’s intemperate language — went far beyond The Moon is Blue by actually depicting the seduction of a virgin.

That was more than enough for Cardinal Spellman to condemn Baby Doll as “sinful”, and the film was ultimately banned both inside and outside the United States, including (oddly) in ostensibly liberal Sweden.

Screening at Pacific Film Archive at 9:00 pm on Saturday, December 3rd as part of the Archive’s current series, “Southern (Dis)comfort: The American South in Cinema”, Baby Doll may no longer have the power to shock, but is still likely to provide some surprises for first-time viewers. We generally don’t expect frank discussions about sex and race in films of this vintage; though Baby Doll’s story is somewhat undercut by its Tennessee Williams’-inspired histrionics, it delivers on both counts. … Continue reading »

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