America, America
Release Date: Dec. 15, 1963

America, America

A 20-year-old Greek innocent dreams of America while enduring the hardship and poverty of rural Turkey. He subsists by gathering ice from a  mountain top, and selling the unmelted remnants at the local market. So it's no wonder Stavros Topouzoglou (Stathis Giallelis) dreams of going to America.  Released in December 1963, this three-hour movie directed by Elia Kazan (1909-2003) dramatizes the sad plight of  Greek and Armenian minorities. Horrified, we watch as the Turks block the exits to an occupied Armenian church, and then set it on fire.  As the oppression increases, Stavros'  father, fearing the worst, gives his son the family treasures, and sends him to Constantinople to find work and send money to the family. Unlucky and naive Stavros quickly loses the family treasures to Abdul, a con artist (Lou Antonio). Stavros, led into futher misadventure by Abdul , reaches the breaking point and murders him. Broke and bewildered, Stavros finally  makes his way to Constantinople and seeks out  his uncle's dwelling for shelter. He confesses to the loss of the family treasures and pleads with uncle  not to say a word about his misfortunes.  Stavros' letters home mention nothing of his troubles and promise only hope for the future.

Still obsessed with getting to America,  Stavros schemes to gain  favor with Aleko Sinnikoglou (Paul Mann), a wealthy carpet merchant whose daughter Thomna (Linda Marsh) is unmarried. After much persuasion, Aleko consents to give Stavros Thomna's hand in marriage.  Not unexpectedly, Stavros uses money from her dowry to buy a single ticket to America.  As the boat nears its destination, the immigrants crowd on deck. Who will be the first to catch a glimpse of land?  As Stavros finally disembarks, he falls to his knees and kisses the ground. 

Elia Kazan, who  wrote, directed and produced America, America was born in Constantinople in 1909.  His screenplay is based on some of the experiences of his own uncle.  Kazan 's previous movies include  A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata (1952),  On The Waterfront (1954), East of Eden (1955) and Splendor in the Grass ( 1961). America, America received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay in 1964.  In 1999,   Kazan  received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The ceremony was boycotted by some who never forgave Kazan for naming names during the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952.

Copyright: Peter Fokes (2003)
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