A very personal film by Martin Scorsese about the role of films Elia Kazan for the American cinema and for him personally.
Additionally, attending twenty-minute interviews with the actors who starred in Kazan's movies, and his wife.
The career of director Elia Kazan through the eyes of Martin Scorsese. For Martin Scorsese, growing up in Little Italy, seeing On the Waterfront and East of Eden as a young man was a life-changing experience. Scorsese appears on and off camera throughout A Letter to Elia, taking us through Kazan’s life and through his own as well, and through his growing realization that there was an artist behind the camera, someone "who knew me, maybe better than I knew myself."
Elia Kazan directed this curiously constipated film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, about Monroe Starr, a brilliant and efficient studio executive (based upon Fitzgerald's experiences with MGM wunderkind Irving Thalberg). Robert De Niro plays Monroe Starr in a cool and detached manner, and as Kazan pans around the Hollywood Dream Factory of the 1930s, Starr juggles several productions, deals with nervous actors and recalcitrant directors, stays afloat in the Hollywood corporate battlefields, and secretly carries on a love affair with an even cooler and more detached English girl, Kathleen Moore (Ingrid Boulting).
Elia Kazan's compelling social drama was the winner of eight Academy Awards and marks one of Marlon Brando's finest screen performances. Brando is Terry Malloy, a handsome but inarticulate longshoreman, who gets involved in a labor scandal when a fellow dock worker is murdered. He knows that the victim was killed by the oppressive labor union for squealing to a commission investigating misdoings. Terry intends to keep his mouth shut and his job safe. But when Edie (Eva Marie-Saint), the dead man's beautiful sister, comes to town, he must choose between his allegiance to a corrupt union and his loyalty to Edie.