Cast & Crew
In rural New England, factory worker Bill Schmidt lives with his girlfriend Martha Wayne and their infant son Hal. The couple rent their house from Martha's father Harry, a writer of pulp westerns, who lives and works nearby in a small cottage. Although Bill constantly scans newspaper ads for new housing, Martha scoffs at him, insisting that they have an ideal arrangement. One winter morning, after Bill goes out to retrieve a paper as usual, Martha takes Harry a stack of pancakes which he later feeds to his bull terrier, Mack. Soon after Bill departs, Tony Rodriguez and Mike Nickerson drive up and introduce themselves to Martha as army buddies who served with Bill in Vietnam. When Bill returns minutes later, he greets the pair without enthusiasm while Martha introduces them to baby Hal. Tony and Mike both comment about Bill's expansive house, but he hastily explains that the house and extensive acreage belong to Harry. Over snacks, Tony asks Bill about his life and he and Mike laugh when Bill reveals he works for a company that manufactures helicopters for the military. Later, when Mike asks to lie down and take a brief nap, Bill takes Tony out to look at the property. After delightedly helping Bill feed the family chickens, Tony abruptly grows critical of Bill's comfortable lifestyle. He then reveals that he and Mike have just been released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth after serving two years for a crime in which Bill testified against them. When Bill cautiously asks for details about their release, Tony affably explains that their lawyers had their confessions thrown out as he and Mike had not been properly advised of their rights. Noting Bill's apprehension, Tony explains he only wanted to offer Bill his forgiveness for his testimony. At the house, Hal's crying awakens Mike who joins Martha. While chatting with Mike, Martha confides that Bill has never told her about his experience in Vietnam, only that he was involved in a court-martial. Meanwhile, Harry grows curious when he sees Bill walking with a stranger and telephones Martha for explanations. Enthused to learn the men are veterans, he invites them to his cottage where he offers them alcohol and regales them with tales about his days serving in the Pacific during World War II. When Bill attempts to comment about the war, Harry scornfully belittles his pacifistic stance. Hearing whining at the door, Harry discovers Mack seriously injured and bleeding. As Bill tends to the dog's wounds, he observes that Mack has been in a fight. At a window overlooking the Wayne property, Tony points to a large black dog loping in the distance. When Harry curses and relates that the neighbor's dog is an area nuisance, Mike goes out to the car to retrieve a rifle from the trunk. Spotting him, Martha grows alarmed and after placing Hal in his crib rushes to her father's house just as Harry and Tony approvingly watch Mike shoot the black dog. While the three men go out to retrieve the carcass which they then carry across the snow to the neighbor, a disgusted Bill and Martha return to their house. Bill then divulges his part in the court-martial of Mike, Tony and two other members of their squad. Bill relates that Mike led a patrol to seek out the enemy Viet Cong in a small village, but, unable to uncover any traitors, he angrily took a teenage girl hostage then later raped her and encouraged the other patrol members to do the same. All but Bill complied and he later turned the others in. Hugging Bill, Martha praises him for his bravery, but he admits his eventual testimony has haunted him ever since. Martha angrily dismisses this and inquires about Mike and Tony's unexpected visit. When Bill says that Tony offered him an apology, Martha suggests Bill ask them to leave, as their presence is disturbing. Meanwhile, Harry invites Mike and Tony to his cottage, then telephones Martha to ask if they can come over to watch a televised football game on Bill's set. Annoyed when Bill falteringly agrees, Martha goes outside for a long walk. As Harry continues to drink heavily during the game, he first admonishes Bill to acknowledge that Vietnam is crucial in the ongoing battle against Communism, then makes racist comments that incense Tony. When Mike joins Harry on the sofa, an uncomfortable Bill goes upstairs to sit with Hal. Bored, Tony strolls about restlessly, while Mike observes that Martha is attractive and questions Harry why she and Bill are not married. Harry scornfully criticizes Bill as weak. After the game ends, Bill listens from upstairs as Harry invites the men to dinner and suggests that they can join a neighborhood coon hunt later that night. Martha returns from her walk, angered to discover that Bill has not asked Mike and Tony to leave. Taking Mike aside, Harry asks him if he knows anything about Bill's involvement with the court-martial. Mike relates the story, and is mildly surprised when Harry sides with his actions and wonders why he did not kill Bill for his betrayal. Martha prepares and serves dinner and grows increasingly ill at ease as Harry, now quite drunk, cuts his hand while attempting to carve the roast. After convincing her father to return to his cottage, Martha makes coffee, which annoys Bill, who retreats to the kitchen. After Tony helpfully offers Martha advice on a fussy Hal, she snaps at him and he joins Bill. Accompanying Mike in the living room, Martha confides that she knows about the episode in Vietnam. When Mike responds carelessly, Martha disparages him, but Mike criticizes her for offending her father by remaining unmarried. Insisting that he has no need to justify actions the army has accepted, Mike maintains that he is a better soldier than Bill. Growing sympathetic to Mike when he reveals he was shocked to see soldier friends maimed or violently killed, Martha hesitatingly agrees to dance with him to radio music. Curious at the lengthening silence, Tony goes to the living room, followed by Bill who is so outraged by Mike's smug look as Martha clings to him, that he attacks Mike. While Tony holds Martha inside, Mike and Bill go outside and Mike beats Bill severely. Returning to the house, Mike and Tony chase the terrified Martha upstairs where Mike violently rapes her. Tony drags the semiconscious Bill back inside, then joins Mike outside where they drive away. Martha drags herself downstairs and sits silently across from Bill.
J. S. Bach
Baron Of Old Mill Road
Michael L. Mannes
Nicholas T. Proferes
Nicholas T. Proferes
Nicholas T. Proferes
ELIA KAZAN, 1909-2003
Kazan was born Elias Kazanjoglou in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) on September 7, 1909. In 1913, he immigrated with his parents to New York City, where his father sold rugs for a living. At age 17, Kazan enrolled in Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. After graduation, he went to Yale University's School of Drama, where he studied musical theater and began acting and directing plays.
In 1932, Kazan joined New York's socialist minded Group Theatre as an actor and assistant manager. At the time, the Group Theatre was the epicenter for radical thought and activity in the arts. Kazan befriended such notable theater personalities as Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Stella Adler and Clifford Odets. Kazan even joined the Communist party for two years (1934-36), before resigning because of his disillusionment with its leadership.
After his stint in New York, Kazan went to Hollywood, where he found work as an actor in two Warner Brothers films: City for Conquest (1940) and Blues in the Night (1941). He made his Broadway debut in 1942, directing Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth with Tallulah Bankhead; Fredric March and Montgomery Clift. It was a huge hit. After that success, it was back to Hollywood, this time as a director for Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century Fox. Kazan's directorial film debut was the poignant A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), based on Betty Smith's bestseller about tenement life. From the beginning, Kazan proved his talent for enticing natural performances from his actors; James Dunn and Peggy Ann Garner both won deserved Oscars for their work in this film.
1947 would prove to be a breakthrough year for Kazan. He notched two huge hits on Broadway: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller's All My Sons; co-founded the Actors Studio with Lee Strasburg, a leading proponent of "Method" acting that is still widely practiced today; and two potent treatise on anti-Semitism Boomerang and Gentleman's Agreement, the latter earning Kazan his first Oscar. Kazan's next few films were not among his best, but they were well crafted and interesting: Pinky (1949), the story of a light-skinned black woman who passes for white (hampered by Jeanne Crain in the lead); and Panic in the Streets (1950), a taut thriller about efforts to contain a burgeoning epidemic which was shot entirely on the streets of New Orleans.
It wasn't until he brought Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire to the big screen that Kazan had a major impact on American cinema. Featuring an explosive Marlon Brando in the role of Stanley Kowalski, the films' raw sensuality brought a stark and galvanizing realism to cinema that simply hadn't happened before. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) not only earned Kazan another Oscar nod for Best Director, but it made a star out of Brando and earned best acting honors for the rest of the cast: Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter.
It was around this time that Kazan testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). On April 10, 1952, he informed on former associates from the Group Theater, including Clifford Odets, Lillian Hellman, John Garfield, and Lee and Paula Strasberg. Despite formal protests from many acquaintances from his past, including Odets and Arthur Miller, Kazan remained unapologetic to the end for his actions, and he would remain questioned by social critics for the remainder of his life.
Kazan continued his association with Brando in Viva Zapata! (1952), and then in the powerful On the Waterfront (1954), which took eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and a second Best Director Oscar for Kazan. Budd Schulberg's incisive drama about the corruption of longshoremen's unions was the perfect subject matter for Kazan's ever trenchant approach to social consciousness and cinematic naturalism.
Kazan's next effort, based on John Steinbeck's East of Eden (1955) featured James Dean in his first major role. Kazan's continued ability to draw such raw, vulnerable performances out of his actors (as exemplified by Dean) drew critical praise from all quarters, and the film still stands today as one of the most searing looks of a family in conflict.
After East of Eden, Kazan would never quite scale the artistic heights of his previous movies, yet he still came up with some first-rate cinema: the steamy, boldly suggestive Baby Doll (1956), with a thumb sucking Carol Baker as a provocative child bride; an early, superior look at populist demagoguery A Face in the Crowd (1957) with Andy Griffith giving the performance of his career as a corrupt media darling; the moving coming-of-age drama Splendor in the Grass (1961) starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty; the evocative America, America (1963), based on the experiences of Kazan's own uncle's immigration experience; and his final film The Last Tycoon (1976) an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, which starred Robert De Niro.
Kazan was in retirement for several years, but he made a notorious return to the limelight when in 1999, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decided to give Kazan an honorary Oscar® for lifetime achievement. It was a decision met with vocal protests from aging blacklisted artists as well as younger activists. At the time of the presentation, several audience members would not stand up as a form of protest. Still, Kazan attended the ceremonies, thanked friends and family, avoided political discussion, and went home, a most dignified handling of a very controversial moment. Besides his widow, Frances Rudge, Kazan is survived by his sons, Leo, Marco, and Nicholas, a screenwriter who was nominated for an Oscar for Reversal of Fortune (1990); daughters Judy and Katharine; and several grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
ELIA KAZAN, 1909-2003
The working title of the film was Home Free. Nicholas T. Proferes' credit reads, "Photographed and edited by." According to a January 1972 Variety article written by director Elia Kazan, he agreed to direct a script written by his son Chris, financing it himself for $150,000 by taking no salary, using only three technicians, unknown and first-time actors and shooting on 16mm film at his own Connecticut home. In his 1988 autobiography, Kazan stated that he gave Chris an article he had read and on which his son based his script. The Vietnam atrocity described in The Visitors relates to a true incident reported by Daniel Lang in a 1969 article published in New Yorker. The article was later expanded into a book, published in 1970 that was intially titled Casualties of War but later retitled Incident on Hill 192.
Kazan wrote that he found the bare-bones conditions while filming The Visitors "exhilarating," and although unlikely to repeat the experience, he considered it of great value. Kazen's wife, filmmaker Barbara Loden, indicated that her low-budget 1971 semi-documentary, Wanda, influenced Kazan's decision to make The Visitors, which was Chris Kazan's only film.
A February 1972 Daily Variety article related that Kazan's Home Free Productions had been placed on the Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) "unfair" list for being shot without a guild or IATSE contract. Responding to Kazan's comment describing his role in the production as "exhilarating," the SAG board of directors issued a statement which read, in part, that Kazan's "sense of values... (reached) a new height in unprofessionalism when it was achieved at the expense of his colleagues in the industry who have contributed so much to his earlier success." In his autobiography, Kazan indicated that the budget for The Visitors was $175,000 [although his 1972 Variety interview had reported a $150,000 budget] and that he had given his son a newspaper article about a war crime of the rape and murder of a Vietnamese girl and the convicted veterans who held their buddy informer to blame. Kazan admitted that while he knew he was going against the guild by-laws, it was the only way he could make the film. He identified Patricia Joyce ("Martha Wayne") as a Yale university student and Chico Martinez ("Tony Rodriguez") as a Puerto Rican cab driver and aspiring actor. Patrick McVey ("Harry Wayne") and James Woods ("Bill Schmidt") had previous film experience, although The Visitors was Woods's first starring role. The Visitors marked the feature film debut of Steve Railsback.
According to Kazan's autobiography, when the film opened in New York, he and his son were shocked when the audience booed the story's conclusion and did not understand the mostly negative reviews it received. Kazan also stated that the film's distributor, United Artists, was not enthusiastic about his intention to enter the film in the May 1972 Cannes Film Festival and offered him minimal support. Kazan indicated that the film was well received at its screening at the festival and suggested that the reason it did not receive further attention was due to the influence against it by the chairman of the jury, with whom he had had political differences in the past. After The Visitors, Kazan directed one more film, the 1976 Paramount release, The Last Tycoon. In 1989, director Brian De Palma directed an adaptation of Lang's Casualties of War released by Columbia Pictures.
Released in United States Winter February 1972
Released in United States on Video July 6, 1994
Released in United States 1996
Feature acting debut for James Woods.
Released in United States Winter February 1972
Released in United States on Video July 6, 1994
Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Kazan" November 22 - December 26, 1996.)