|DRAMA||20130115||20171018 (BBC7)||by Gregory Evans.|
After ten years of estrangement, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan, two giants of American theatre, are forced to confront their intense, almost brotherly friendship - and how that friendship was destroyed by the great moral and political dilemma of the time.
Directed by Marc Beeby
For five heady years, Arthur Miller and Elia Kazan were the closest of friends and collaborators. From 1947, when Kazan directed Miller's first Broadway hit All My Sons, their stars rose together. In 1949 Kazan directed Death of a Salesman, sealing their reputations and partnership. For the next two years they worked on the film that would become On the Waterfront. In Hollywood, Gadg introduced Art to one of his ex-girlfriends, Marilyn Monroe, who became Miller's wife and muse.
However in 1952 Kazan named names to the House Un-American Activities Committee out of fear of being blacklisted by Hollywood (Miller defied HUAC two years later). The friendship ended in blame and bitterness: the two men didn't speak for over ten years.
But by the early '60s Miller was struggling with his first new play in almost a decade - a work, though he refused to admit it, more confessional than anything he'd ever written. After the Fall dealt with the very issues and events that had ended his friendship with Kazan. It featured characters based on Kazan, Monroe and Miller himself, with scenes and dialogue drawn directly from their lives.
Broke and badly in need of a hit Miller agreed Kazan should direct After the Fall. Despite misgivings about working with Miller and about the play, Kazan took the job. He cast his mistress (Barbara Loden, whose character and personal history were very similar to Monroe's) in the role of Maggie/Marilyn, adding to the looking-glass aspect of the enterprise. During rehearsals President Kennedy was shot; and Kazan's wife of thirty years died suddenly.
But Art & Gadg simply picked up from where they had left off a decade earlier. Studiously ignoring the betrayals and traumas in their shared past (not only the anti-Communist witch-hunts, but Miller's divorce from Monroe and her death in 1962), they resumed their old collaboration.
Two giants of American theatre confront the demise of their friendship.
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