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Encyclopedia > Clifford Odets
Clifford Odets photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937
Clifford Odets photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937

Clifford Odets (July 18, 1906 - August 18, 1963) was an American socialist playwright, screenwriter, and social protester. Clifford Odets photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937 Sept. ... Clifford Odets photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1937 Sept. ... July 18 is the 199th day (200th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 166 days remaining. ... 1906 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... August 18 is the 230th day of the year (231st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1963 was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... The color red and particularly the red flag are traditional symbols of Socialism. ... A playwright is an author of plays for performance in the theater. ... Screenwriters, scenarists or script writers, are authors who write the screenplays from which movies are made. ...

Contents


Life

Odets was born in Philadelphia of Jewish immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx, New York. He dropped out of high school to pursue acting. He helped found the Group Theatre, an influential left-wing theatre company that specialized in experimental acting. He joined the Communist Party in 1934, although he left it after eight months. Philadelphia is a village located in Jefferson County, New York. ... The word Jew ( Hebrew: יהודי) is used in a wide number of ways, but generally refers to a follower of the Jewish faith, a child of a Jewish mother, or someone of Jewish descent with a connection to Jewish culture or ethnicity and often a combination of these attributes. ... The Bronx is one of the five boroughs of United States. ... State nickname: Empire State Other U.S. States Capital Albany Largest city New York Governor George Pataki (R) Official languages None (English is de facto) Area 141,205 km² (27th)  - Land 122,409 km²  - Water 18,795 km² (13. ... The Group Theatre was a left-wing theater collective, formed in New York in 1931 by Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg. ... The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) is one of several Marxist-Leninist groups in the United States. ...


After briefly trying acting, Odets decided to become the Group Theatre's first original playwright. At the urging of Group co-founder Harold Clurman, he wrote Awake and Sing! in 1935. Although his first play, it is often considered his masterpiece. It follows the story of a large Jewish family in New York, with the conclusion that Marxism is the only way for the working class to find any dignity. Harold Clurman ( September 18, 1901 – September 9, 1980) was an American theater director and drama critic, most famous for his work with New York Citys Group Theater. ...


Mainly due to misgivings from Group leader Lee Strasberg, Awake and Sing! was not produced right away. Odets' first play to actually be produced was the one-act play Waiting for Lefty. This is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company. The focus alternates between the drivers' union meeting and vignettes from their difficult, oppressed lives. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street. The wild success of this play brought Odets unexpected fame and fortune. Odets would soon move to Hollywood to begin writing for the screen as well as the stage. Lee Strasberg (November 17, 1901–February 17, 1982) was an actor and acting teacher, born in Budanov (near Chortkiv or Buchach), Galicia, Austria-Hungary to Ida and Baruch Meyer Strasberg. ... ...


These plays, along with Odets' other major Group Theatre plays of the 1930s, are harsh criticisms of the capitalist class in the Great Depression. They have been dismissed by some critics as mere propaganda, but Odets asserted that all of his plays deal with the human spirit persevering in the face of all opponents, whether they be the capitalist class or not. In later years, Odets' plays became more reflective and autobiographical, although class consciousness was ever in the background. In economics, a capitalist is someone who owns capital, presumably within the economic system of capitalism. ... The Great Depression was a massive global economic recession (or depression) that ran from 1929 to 1941. ... North Korean propaganda showing a soldier destroying the United States Capitol building. ...


In 1953, Odets was investigated by Joseph McCarthy and called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He disavowed his communist affiliations and cooperated by "naming names"; as a result, he did not share the fate of many of his colleagues who were blacklisted. Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician originally aligned with the Democratic Party and later with the Republican Party. ... HUAC hearings The House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC (or, rarely, HUAAC) (1945-1975) was an investigating committee of the United States House of Representatives. ... A blacklist is a list or register of people who, for one reason or another, are being denied a particular privilege, service, or mobility. ...


Odets' dramatic style is distinguished by a kind of poetic, metaphor-laden street talk, by his socialist politics, and by his way of dropping the audience right into the conflict with little or no introduction. Often character is more important than plot, which Odets attributed to the influence of Anton Chekhov. In general, Odets' political statements show a rather naive view of Marxism that might be expected in the 1930s; for example, he often points to the Soviet Union as an example of a perfect socialist state, not the land of violence and poverty that we now know it was. Chekhov (left) and Maxim Gorky at Yalta in 1900 Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (Ант́он П́авлович Ч́ехов) (29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) (Old Style: 17 January 1860 – 2 July 1904) was a major Russian playwright and perhaps the foremost modern writer of the short story. ...


His first wife was actress Luise Rainer; his second wife was actress Bette Grayson, and he also had a relationship with actress Frances Farmer. He died of cancer at the age of 57 in 1963. Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Luise Rainer (born January 12, 1910 in Düsseldorf, Germany) is a film actress. ... Bette Grayson Bette Grayson was a Hollywood actress and the second wife of playwright Clifford Odets. ... Frances Elena Farmer (born September 19, 1913 in Seattle, Washington, and died August 1, 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana) was an American film actress. ...


Works

Acted in:

  • Midnight - 1930
  • 1931 - 1931
  • Big Night - 1933
  • They All Come to Moscow - 1933
  • Men in White - 1933
  • Gold Eagle Guy - 1934

Wrote

The Flowering Peach became the basis for the 1970 musical Two by Two. Golden Boy became the basis for a 1964 musical of the same name. His screenplay for the Sweet Smell of Success became the basis for the 2002 musical of the same name. Waiting for Lefty was the first play by Clifford Odets to be produced (though not the first one written), and it is his best known work. ... Clash by Night is a black-and-white film noir/drama starring Robert Ryan and Marylin Monroe. ... Notorious was a 1946 thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. ... Deadline at Dawn is a 1946 film noir, the only film directed by stage director Harold Clurman. ... The Country Girl is a 1915 silent film, starring Florence La Badie. ... Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 film which tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist who uses his connections to ruin his sisters relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. ... Wild in the Country is a 1961 film drama starring Elvis Presley in which he portrays a troubled young man from a dysfunctional family who pursues a literary career. ... Two by Two is a name given to a certain christian fundamentalist sect, they are also called Cooneyites (after Edward Cooney) or Workersect. ... Golden Boy is the title of a play by Clifford Odets, first staged in 1937 by the Group Theatre. ... Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 film which tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist who uses his connections to ruin his sisters relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. ...


A (very) loose retelling of Clifford Odets's trouble adapting to writing screenplays in Hollywood is the basis for the 1991 film Barton Fink. Barton Fink is a 1991 film by Joel and Ethan Coen. ...


External links

  • IMDB

  Results from FactBites:
 
Clifford Odets - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (625 words)
Odets was born in Philadelphia of Jewish immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx, New York.
In general, Odets' political statements show a rather naive view of Marxism that might be expected in the 1930s; for example, he often points to the Soviet Union as an example of a perfect socialist state, not the land of violence and poverty that we now know it was.
Clifford Odets died of cancer at the age of 57 in 1963 and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
GradeSaver: ClassicNote: Biography of Clifford Odets (615 words)
Clifford Odets was born to Jewish immigrant parents in Philadelphia, PA, on July 18, 1906.
Odets also perfected the group's ambition to write plays in the authentic language of its working-class characters; his crackling, pitch-perfect dialogue brought an unprecedented level of social realism to the theater.
Odets quickly followed the success of "Waiting for Lefty" in 1935 with what many consider his masterpiece, "Awake and Sing!" and also "Till the Day I Die," one of the first anti-Nazi plays produced on Broadway.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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