Arthur Miller: Writer (2017)


(director: Rebecca Miller; cinematographer: Ellen Kuras; editor: David Bartner; music: Michael Rohatyn; cast: Arthur Miller,Rebecca Miller (Narrator), Jane Miller, Bob Miller, Elia Kazan, Marilyn Monroe, Inge Morath, Mary Grace Slattery, Gussie Miller; Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Cindy Tolan/Damon Cardasis/Hilary Gilford/Rebecca Miller; HBO; 2017)

Warm portrait on dad.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rebecca Miller (“Personal Velocity”/”The Ballad of Jack and Rose”), whose husband is Daniel Day Lewis, is the daughter of Arthur Miller, by his third wife, the German Magnum photographer Inge Morath. The 53-year-old Rebecaa is an actress and writer, and the mother of three children. She directs with intimacy and competence a penetrating look at her playwright father. It uses home films, archive footage, Arthur reading from his autobiography Timebends: A Life, television interviews, explanations for his plays and photographs for her warm portrait on dad, which takes us six chapters in his life. Arthur Miller (1915-2005) wrote such plays as The Man Who Had All The Luck, All My sons, Death of a Salesman, After the Fall, The Crucible, A Vew Feom The Bridge and many more. Arthur was the son of an illiterate Polish Jewish immigrant, Izzie, who eschewed elementary school to become a salesman and eventually a successful small manufacturer, The stock market crash saw him go bust and move from a luxury life in Harlem to a modest place in Brooklyn. The Depression greatly influenced Arthur, who took after his artistic mother Gussie. He went to Michigan University and won writing awards. This encouraged him in the 1940s to be a writer. Arthur was married three times. From 1940 to 1956 he married the lapsed Catholic Mary Grace Slattery, who worked in a book publishing house and they had a son Bob. He began an extra-marital affair affair with the vulnerable Marilyn Monroe, and in 1956 divorced Mary to marry Marilyn. The evil witch-hunting House Un-American Activities Committee brought Arthur in front of their committee and tried to force him to name commies in Hollywood. He refused and was sentenced to a year in prison, but his sentence was suspended. After he wrote the film in 1961 of The Misfits for the troubled Marilyn, she divorced him and died a few months later from an overdose of sleeping pills. Moving back permanently to his country home in Roxbury, Connecticut, he married in 1962 Inge Morath. They remained together until she died in 2002. On the casual side we observe Arthur make furniture in his workshop and do gardening. Discussing his good friend Elia Kazan (who staged All My Sons,Death of a Salesman, and After the Fall), he reminds us that though he didn’t approve of Elia naming names to HUAC, he tells us that we should not overlook that the real villain was not Kazan but Joseph McCarthy. “They keep blaming people who were essentially victims.” There are many Miller quotes, but the two I liked best are: “Art is long, Life is short.” and “Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.”



Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”