Arthur Miller: Writer (2017) Movie Script

What a real playwright
has to do
is to say to the audience,
in effect,
"This is what you think...
you're seeing in life
every day,"
and then to turn it around
and say,
"This is what it really is."
( music playing )
Imagine if we knew the truth.
That's a very lovely thought,
all right.
That would be great thing.
And once, sometimes,
in a lifetime,
a playwright
can get at it, really.
( music playing )
Man: Playwright Arthur Miller
has received
virtually every artistic award
which denotes
creativity, and acclaim.
Man 2:
A great deal of publicity
attended Arthur Miller.
Dick Cavett: ...with a giant
of the American theater--
Arthur Miller.
( applause )
Rebecca Miller:
My father had become
a national icon of the theater
decades before I was born.
He had lived through
so many different eras,
almost like
different lifetimes.
Man 4: Why did you refuse
the invitation
of President Johnson?
( reporters clamoring;
overlapping speech )
Man 5: Are you a member
of the Communist Party
or have you ever been
a member
of the Communist Party?
Rebecca: Early on,
I recognized
that his public persona
was so different
from the man I knew,
and I felt I was
the only filmmaker
that he would let close enough
to really see
what he was like.
So I started doing interviews
with him
and his siblings, friends,
taking a lot of home footage
and gathering old movies
and photos,
over a period
of about 20 years.
And all that footage
sat in storage
for quite a long time,
until I decided
it should be shut away
no longer.
Rebecca: Have you decided on
what to wear?
Arthur Miller: Well,
you sort of decided for me.
It's what I wore all week.
( Baroque era music playing )
( vocalizing along with music )
I got up and I sat down,
and I'm just breathless.
OK, Pop!
( power saw buzzing )
( drill whirs )
All those goddamn angles
drive you crazy.
Rebecca: Dad, do you think
there are any similarities
between building furniture
and writing plays?
The way I look at it, it's...
there are forces
that want to break out,
and forces that want
to contract.
And if you've got
a sense of form,
you can make that projectile
on stage...
move like a living...thing.
And move people with it.
If it just lies there...
it means
that some of the forces in it
haven't been captured.
Or you haven't evoked them.
( Rebecca laughs )
Did your father like to eat
as much as you do?
Some restaurants,
they loved him,
so they'd never
let him pay.
I went into one restaurant
in those years,
twenty-five years ago,
sat down, had a little lunch,
waiter came over to me
and said--
leaned over the table
and said,
"Your father
was a better dresser."
( laughing )
Miller: My father had arrived
in New York all alone,
from the middle of Poland,
before his seventh birthday.
Came here alone
with a tag on his...coat.
And his family was here.
But why--I never
understood why,
how they could have done that.
I think they must have thought
there was something wrong
with him.
He used to say that
he would always
be sleeping with idiots.
And I have the feeling
that he may have been
in some kind of an institution.
Rebecca: You think that they
thought there was something--
I can't imagine them
leaving him here otherwise.
You mean in Poland?
Yeah, I think he's right.
He arrived in New York.
His parents were too busy
to pick him up
at Castle Garden,
and sent his next-eldest
brother Abe,
going on 10,
to find him,
get him through Immigration,
and bring him home
to Stanton Street
and a tenement where,
in two rooms,
the eight of them lived
and worked,
sewing the great, long,
many-buttoned cloaks
that were the fashion then.
They sent him to school
for about six months.
Figured he had enough.
He never learned how to spell,
he never learned how to figure,
then he went right back
into the shop.
By the time he was twelve,
he himself was employing
two other boys
to sew sleeves on coats
alongside him
in some basement workshop.
He went on the road,
when he was about 16,
as a--
selling at a wholesale level.
He ended up being the support
of the entire family,
because he started a business
in 1921 or something,
the Miltex Coat Company,
which turned out to be
one of the largest
manufacturers in this country.
See, we lived in Manhattan
on 110th Street,
facing the park.
It was a beautiful apartment
up on the sixth floor.
We had a chauffeur-driven car;
the family was well fixed.
It was the '20s,
and I remember our mother
and father
going to a show
every weekend
and coming back Sunday morning.
She would be playing
the sheet music
of the musicals.
And we would fight about
who was going to sing with her.
- ( laughing )
- ( Kermit ) Or who wasn't
going to sing with her.
And who wasn't
going to sing with her.
Generally, he wasn't
going to sing.
I'm gonna sit right down
and write myself a letter
And make believe
it came from you
- Rebecca: That's nice.
- ( overlapping chatter )
Bah-bah bah bah
Da deedle-ee
doo-doo doo-doo
Dad, what does this
remind you of?
It reminds me of...
( Miller continues )
Miller: You know,
she could read a novel
in an afternoon.
She was the fastest reader
I have ever met in my life.
Not only that,
but she'd remember it
for the rest of her life.
Well, she was a very complicated
woman, very complex.
She had the energy of a dynamo.
She could sing,
she could play the piano...
She could be quite flamboyant.
She used to dance on the table
New Year's Eve.
She could draw, she could--
she was a helluva bridge player.
- She was funny.
- Very bitchy. ( laughs )
She had an attitude
about most things.
Rebecca: But you kept kosher
when you cooked?
Well, yeah.
Till she started
making bacon.
She loved bacon.
I think she tried to
rule and divide the kids.
See, I always considered myself
the favorite.
Rebecca: Who was
your mother's favorite?
Yeah, I think I was.
I would, for example,
if I didn't want
to go to school,
I'd start limping around.
My mother
immediately caught on,
and she said,
"You don't have
to go school today,
you're limping."
( chuckling )
And we'd both
go to some place
and have oysters.
Rebecca: But your mother,
you said that she saw portents
in a lot of things, right?
She saw signs.
She saw...mysterious things
in the air from time to time.
She'd have feelings
from people.
She once sat up in bed
in the middle of the night,
she suddenly said,
"My mother died."
And indeed, at that moment,
her mother had died.
It was spooky.
How you you think that
it translated into you,
Well, I used to think
that the way that a play
was not about
what was spoken,
but was between
the spoken lines.
That the world, essentially,
is not what we call "real."
And these arts are attempting
to approach that world.
And it all comes
from my mother.
You know, in my case,
it's always coming
from somewhere.
She was that way.
She idolized artists,
pianists, writers, and so on.
My father had no knowledge
of any of that.
Fran: And it was
an arranged marriage.
For a woman of her ability
to be married off
to a man
who couldn't read or write--
I think Gussie
taught him now to read,
and then to sign his name.
Miller: She knew she was
being wasted, I think.
But she respected him a lot,
and that made up for a lot.
Until he really crashed
she got angry then.
These tremendous crowds
which you see gathered
outside the Stock Exchange,
are due to the greatest crash
in the history
of the New York Stock Exchange.
Miller: First,
the chauffer was let go
and the summer bungalow
was discarded,
the last of her jewelry
had been pawned or sold--
and then another step down:
the move to Brooklyn.
Not just the case of my father,
but every boy I knew.
I used to pal around
with half a dozen guys,
and all their fathers
were simply blown out
of the water.
The whole family orbit
It was--it was painful.
Miller: I could not avoid
awareness of my mother's anger
at this waning of his powers.
A certain sneering contempt
for him
had filtered through her voice.
Rebecca: So how did the way
you saw your father change
when he lost his money?
Terrible pity for him.
So much of his authority
sprang from the fact
that he was a very successful
And he always knew
what he was doing.
And suddenly...nothin'.
He didn't know where he was.
It was absolutely
not his fault,
it was the Great Crash
of the '29, '30, '31 period.
So from that,
I always, I think,
contracted the idea
that we're very deeply immersed
in the political and economic
life of the country,
and of the world.
And that these forces
end up in the bedroom.
Then they end up in
the father-and-son
and father-and-daughter
Younger Miller:
In "Death of a Salesman,"
what I was interested in there
was what his world
and what his life
had left him with,
what it had done to him.
Older Miller:
A guy can't make a living,
he loses his dignity.
Loses his male force.
And so you tend
to make up for it
by telling him he's OK anyway.
Or else you turn your back
on him and leave.
All of which
helps create integrated plays,
When you begin to look, well,
it's a personality here,
but what part is being played
by impersonal forces?
I got through high school.
I'd had such a miserable record
that I couldn't get into
a decent university.
So I went to work
on a full-time basis.
Rebecca: Weren't you a waiter
in the Catskills?
I sure was.
I was the worst waiter.
It was the most elegant hotel
in the Catskills,
and the help was given food
that had rotted.
So we used to steal food
on the way out of the kitchen
into the dining room.
Somebody ordered
two lamb chops,
you went into the kitchen
and you ordered three.
Go...( slurps )
Finally I landed
a helluva good job
in an automobile parts
And I had an hour and a half
on the subway every morning.
Then I started reading what
we used to call "thick books."
I remember reading
Dostoyevsky once,
I was staring into space
for weeks
thinking a human being
could write that.
So I saved up $500,
and after much pleading,
the University of Michigan
decided to put me on
for six months.
But when you went to college,
Kermit didn't go.
He was the older son,
and the older son
in the Jewish family,
or other families,
is the one with
the responsibility.
The younger son is just--
nobody pays
much attention to him.
He's just
coasting along.
And Kermit had
that responsibility,
which he took
very seriously.
So as time went on,
he became loaded with
the responsibility
for the family business.
I escaped, thank God.
I was gunning for
a Hopwood Award,
which, at the University
of Michigan,
was the student equivalent
of the Nobel.
But I had two jobs
and a full academic schedule,
and between dishwashing
three times a day
and feeding
three floors of mice
in a genetics laboratory
in the woods
at the edge of town,
I would fall into bed
each night exhausted.
I decided to remain
in Ann Arbor
rather than go home
for the spring vacation
and to use the week
to write my play.
Why it had to be a play,
rather than a story or a novel,
I've never been sure.
But it was like the difference
for an artist
between a sculpture
and a drawing--
it seemed more tangible.
Younger Miller:
...that the theater
has a higher mission,
has had, for two or three
thousand years,
a civilizing impact on man,
and that it remains yet,
as I said, the tribune
where a citizen
such as myself
may address quite plainly,
and over empty air,
so to speak,
his fellow citizens.
Working day and night
with a few hours
of exhausted sleep
sprinkled through the week,
I finished the play
in five days.
It was about
an industrial conflict
and a father and his two sons,
the most autobiographical
dramatic work
I would ever write.
You know,
the truth of the matter is
that I never had an argument
with my father.
That was part of
the problem, see,
we could never come
to a fruitful conflict.
( laughing ) So it took
my work to do that.
From the beginning,
the idea of writing a play
was a kind of license
to say the unspeakable.
I had won the Hopwood--
for one week's work.
I was still accustomed
to thinking like a laborer.
It had taken me two years
to save up the $500
to come to Michigan.
From the beginning,
writing meant freedom,
the spreading of wings.
I had never known
such exhilaration.
It was as though
I had levitated
and left the world below.
Joan Copeland:
When he would have
come back from college,
there was a change in him.
He was beginning
to be his own man.
He was beginning
to be Arthur Miller
and not just
one of the Millers.
Newscaster: Following
yesterday's unprovoked attack
by the Japanese on Hawaii,
the United States was at war.
Newscaster 2: Adolph Hitler's
mechanized forces
are racing toward Paris
as French resistance collapses.
He went into the army.
He said to himself,
he said, "Kill me."
What happened to you
in the war?
Well, I was drafted,
and then they looked
at my broken knee
and they said,
"We don't want you.
Go get an operation."
So I said, "Why don't you guys
operate on me?"
They said,
"We don't do that operation."
I said, "Why?"
"It's too dangerous."
( laughter )
By that time,
I was on my way
as a writer,
writing scripts for radio.
And I was married.
What was Mary like?
She's a Catholic woman
raised in the Midwest
who rebelled
against all of that.
They were all Republicans,
she was a Democrat.
She was a rebel.
She didn't like
going to church,
she stopped
as soon as she could,
you know,
they were all devout.
She moved to New York
with a Jew.
Coming out of Michigan,
New York was
her dream come true.
Jane Miller:
I mean, she was literary,
I mean, she read everything,
and she worked in publishing.
And they would go
to the theater a lot.
They went to the theater
all the time.
Jane Miller:
Did you get the feeling
that, you know,
Dad had a weak spot
for being adored?
Bob Miller: Mm-hmm.
( laughs ) Yeah.
Yeah, and I think Mom
was not somebody
who did that gratuitously.
She wasn't very demonstrative
in her affection.
Jane: And you can see
in the letters to Mary
that he's quite puppyish
with her,
he really wants her approval
and he wants to please her.
( typewriter keys clacking )
Mike Wallace:
I knew you, of course,
a little,
and I knew Mary
back at Ann Arbor.
You and Mary seemed
an usual couple.
Miller: That's part of what
attracted both of us.
We were mysteries
to each other.
She wanted the intellectual,
a Jew,
the artist,
and I wanted...America.
Man: Opening in theaters
this week,
"The Man Who Had
All the Luck"
the Broadway debut of
Brooklyn's own Arthur Miller.
Miller: The question
behind the play is
how much of our lives we make
and how much are made
by circumstance.
It was about a young man
who lives in a small town
in the Middle West.
He can't seem
to do anything wrong.
And he gradually
grows to fear
that his fate is building up
a thundercloud
which is going to strike him,
and becomes quite paranoid.
I guess I assumed
I was not gonna be attacked
or destroyed or eaten alive.
So that was my first
introduction to show business.
I resolved after
the failure of "The Man
Who Had All the Luck"
that I was never gonna write
another play.
I didn't want to be
a 30-year-old
would-be playwright--
there's so many other things
you can do with your life.
She was the one
who was paying the rent,
when "The Man Who Had
All the Luck" closed
after six performances,
and Dad sat down
to write "Focus"
'cause he thought,
"Maybe I'm not a playwright,
maybe I gotta pay the rent
somehow else."
She got
the publisher
she was
working with
to publish it,
after he'd shopped it around
to some other places.
But what I did was,
decide that I would write
a play one more time.
This time I took
over two years to write it.
Rebecca: Do you know
what kind of role she had
in the development
of the writing?
Bob: Yeah.
She had a big part in it.
I think she'd read his stuff,
I know that he showed her
all his stuff.
And I know she was tough.
I mean, I know that she,
you know,
she would speak her mind
and speak up about it.
And I think it probably
served him well.
Man: It's a play that comes out
right after the war,
and there was nothing
more culturally significant
or important than a great play.
It was just after the war,
a boom was just starting,
and here I'm writing about
this great war effort
that we had just come through
where everybody was celebrating
And what the play is doing
is saying, "Listen,
there was a lot of crookedness
in this war,
there's a lot of selfish people
who didn't give a damn
about whether we won or lost."
Is that as far
as your mind can see,
the business?
What is that, the world,
the business?
Don't you have a country?
Don't you live in the world?
Miller: Mary's mother
had unknowingly triggered
"All My Sons"
when she gossiped
about a young girl
somewhere in central Ohio
who had turned her father in
to the FBI
for having manufactured
faulty aircraft parts
during the war.
Chris Keller: It means
you knew they'd crash!
- It don't mean that!
- Then you thought
they'd crash!
I was afraid maybe--
You were afraid maybe?
Miller: This kind of placid
American backyard
was not ordinarily associated,
at least in 1947,
with murder and suicide.
Well, it was the son
who was discovering the--
the, uh,
the, uh, failing
of a father,
and leveling a judgment upon him
which is very harsh.
I know you're no worse
than most men,
but I thought you were better.
I never saw you as a man.
I saw you as my father.
One tall and dignified man
I saw standing
in the lobby crowd
at the intermission,
his eyes red with weeping.
To his companion,
who had asked what
he'd thought of the play,
he muttered through thin,
barely moving lips,
"I like it."
Once I got the first inkling
that others were reached
by what I wrote,
an assumption arose
that some kind
of public business
was happening inside me.
Your big job is not to make
simple things complicated,
but to make complicated things
In other words, I'm the guy
that goes around and says,
"Well, what is
really goin' on here?"
"All My Sons" had already
shown its impact,
but the director, Elia Kazan,
continued rehearsing
sections of it every day,
driving it to ever more
intensified climaxes,
working it like
a piece of music
that had to be sustained here
and hushed there.
We were very close.
He was a wonderful director.
I think he was the best
realistic director
we've ever had.
Joan Miller:
He adored Kazan.
Kazan was a little older,
as well,
so I think he really
looked up to Kazan.
They were like brothers.
And I don't think
Dad ever had a friend
like that again--
quite like that.
We had the same attitude
toward the theater,
which was that it was
a means to expression
of a worldview
of one kind or another.
With "A Streetcar
Named Desire,"
Tennessee Williams
had printed a license
to speak at full throat,
and it helped strengthen me
as I turned to Willy Loman.
When you start a play,
do you start with a character?
( trails off,
indistinct )
A person, a human being....
- is what I start with.
- Not a story.
- What?
- Not a story.
Not a theme,
but one person.
It's a mixture.
It's a mix-up.
It's usually a character,
because I can't think
in abstract terms too much.
I like to get people
on the stage.
So, who was Willy based on?
Willy Loman.
Miller: He was based originally
on an uncle of mine.
He was a salesman,
he was completely crazy,
and he would sweep you away
with these imaginary situations.
He used to sit
in his garage,
and hanging up
right over his head
was this spade.
And I said,
"Could I borrow the spade
for an hour or two?"
He'd look up and he'd say,
"I don't have a spade."
And I couldn't dare say,
"Well, there's one
right over your head."
But it was more than that.
He had a tragic aspect
to him, always, to me.
In all his exaggerations,
there was a striving underneath
to do something wonderful,
something extraordinary.
Like, a bit of an artist
in there.
Miller: In reality,
all I had was
the first two lines:
- Linda Loman: Willy?
- Miller: "Willy?"
Willy Loman: It's all right.
I came back.
"It's all right. I came back."
Further than that,
I dared not,
would not, venture
until I could sit
in a completed studio--
four walls, two windows,
a floor and a roof
and a door.
There's legends about
the hut he built to make it.
Tell me a little bit
about that again.
He built this special house--
Rebecca: Yes,
he had it in his head,
and he was already
composing the first act
as he built the house.
When I closed in the roof,
it was a miracle,
as though I had mastered
the rain and cooled the sun.
And all the while afraid
I would never be able
to penetrate
past those first two lines.
Once he had it built,
he sat down
and he wrote it.
- And he wrote the first act
in one night.
- Yes.
Miller: I started writing
one morning...
Willy Loman: "Someday
I'm gonna have my own business
and I'll never have
to leave home anymore."
Miller: ...and wrote until
some hour in the darkness
between midnight and 4:00.
Willy Loman:
In the business world,
the man who creates
a personal interest
is the man who gets ahead."
When I lay down to sleep,
I realized I had been weeping.
My eyes still burned,
and my throat was sore
from talking it all out,
and shouting, and laughing.
By the next morning,
I had done the first half.
It would take
some six more weeks
to complete Act Two.
I did not move far
from the phone
for two days after sending
the script to Elia Kazan.
By the end
of the second silent day,
I would have accepted
his calling to tell me
that it was an impenetrable,
unstageable piece of wreckage.
And his tone,
when he finally did call,
was alarmingly somber.
"I've read your play."
He sounded at a loss as to
how to give me the bad news.
"My God, it's so sad.
It's a great play, Artie.
I want to do it in the fall
or winter."
Linda Loman:
I don't say he's a great man.
Willy Loman never
made a lot of money.
His name was never
in the papers.
He's not the finest character
that ever was.
But he's a human being,
and a terrible thing
is happening.
So attention must be paid--
not to be allowed
to fall into his grave
like an old dog.
Attention! Attention
must finally be paid
to such a person!
I remember seeing "Salesman,"
'cause I had a girlfriend
whose mother would give us
theater tickets.
And we didn't
go to the bathroom,
we didn't do anything--
we just sat, stunned.
Because it seemed
that was another world.
That was not like
going to see a play--
it was something else.
More than anything else,
Willy has sacrificed
his entire life to getting
a future for his son,
who becomes,
as his mother says, a bum,
you know, adrift and lost.
In Willy's case,
he knows, on some level,
that the infidelity
and the lies
destroyed Biff's faith
in Willy,
and it sort of
revealed the world
as this kind of rotten,
rigged game.
Rebecca: And it's a very
expressionist play,
which is forgotten,
because it's a play--
it's almost thought of
as such a realistic play.
It isn't.
It's quite the opposite.
I had known all along
that this play could not
be accomplished
by conventional realism,
and for one integral reason--
in Willy, the past was as alive
as what was happening
at the moment,
sometimes even crashing in
to completely
overwhelm his mind.
Rebecca: Do you remember
what your original title
for that was, you said?
The title I thought
of originally
was "The Inside of His Head."
Something's going on
in Willy's head
that's adrift in memory,
and in damaged memory,
because he's not
really sure where he is
at any moment.
What is illusionistic
becomes real
and what is real
becomes illusionistic.
Willy Loman:
I have such thoughts.
I have such strange thoughts.
Linda Loman:
Willy, dear,
talk to them again.
Kushner: Part of what
that structure is,
which Kazan really helped
Arthur plunge into fully,
and then Mielziner's set is--
it's a film structure,
things bleed
from one thing into another,
it's like dissolves.
But that sort of dreamlike
damaged memory structure
of the play
is fighting with
the storytelling abilities
and the dramatic
structural abilities
of the greatest
narrative-realist dramatist
since Henrik Ibsen.
So I thought I could do two
things at the same time.
Two things
at the same time, meaning...?
A psychological reality
and a social reality
at the same time,
and a tragic scheme.
Willy Loman:
The door of your life
is wide open!
Biff Loman:
Pop! I'm a dime a dozen,
and so are you!
I'm not a dime a dozen!
I'm Willy Loman.
You're Biff Loman!
I'm a dollar an hour!
I tried seven states...
The way I saw tragedy--
I guess I still do--
is, there's a forward motion
on the part of a character.
He is in search
of a value
- which he is committed to...
- Rebecca: Yes. the point of his life.
You said that you thought
tragedy was more optimistic
than comedy.
It means an ultimate
confrontation with reality...
when it's really done right.
And that means
that the individual
in the audience
gets a firmer grip
on what's really going on
in their society
at any one time.
And that should
strengthen them
to confront their lives.
There was no applause
at the final curtain
of the first performance.
Strange things began to go on
in the audience.
With the curtain down,
some people stood
to put their coats on
and then sat again.
Some, especially men,
were bent forward,
covering their faces,
and others were openly weeping.
People crossed the theater
to stand quietly
talking with one another.
It seemed forever before
someone remembered to applaud,
and then there was
no end to it.
( cheers and applause )
There were stories
about fathers for whom
they had to call a doctor
in the night after
they saw "Salesman,"
( voice breaking )
because they cried all night.
I heard that several times.
Why, do you think?
I think they felt nailed.
I thought-- I think they felt,
"Oh, my God, that's me."
I'm not sure
I understand it altogether,
because the effect
of that play is...
is sometimes beyond
my comprehension,
quite frankly.
All I can do
is express a vision
of what--
of how to touch people,
of how to move them,
of how to reach them.
Did he or did he not feel
that he burned something out
when he wrote it?
I think, whoever wrote
something would
have burned out,
because it's so close
to the target,
it's so....alive.
Well, with a success like that,
you get feelings
of omnipotence.
A little touch of it, you know?
You think you can do anything.
You inevitably begin to feel
a kind of impact of power
which is sexual,
it is financial,
it is everything.
You begin to shift and change
if you're not careful,
which I wasn't.
People now were talking to me
women, men--
they were looking at me
like an icon of some kind.
Well, then I felt with my--
with my wife then
that we were...
It wasn't enough for me,
I thought I-- I had a feeling
that we were not close,
that we were not one.
( typewriter keys clacking )
( recording of Marilyn Monroe
playing )
She was witty.
She was making fun
of the situation
as she was playing it.
But that was the difference,
people thought they could
imitate her by being cute,
but she was being cute
and making fun of being cute
at the same time.
So there was that...
- Rebecca: They think--
- ...other dimension,
which is very difficult to do.
( no audio of Monroe )
Mike Wallace:
I gather that you resisted
getting involved
with Marilyn.
Miller: For about four
or five years, sure.
- Wallace: Why?
- Well, I was married,
and I didn't want
to break up my marriage.
Certainly not.
Since I was married
and Marilyn could hardly
peek out of her hotel room door
without being photographed,
we spent much time
alone together.
A bond of shared silences
as mysterious as sexuality,
and as hard to break,
also began to form.
After one of those silences
I said,
"You're the saddest girl
I've ever met."
A smile touched her lips
as she discovered
the compliment I had intended.
"You're the only one
who ever said that to me."
I certainly do believe
that the Communist Party
should be outlawed.
If I had my way about it,
they'd all be sent
back to Russia.
Rebecca: Dad had been
radicalized by Marxism
when he was in his teens,
but soon came to feel
that there wasn't enough room
for the individual in Marxism
and became a liberal
and really dedicated much
of his life to liberal causes.
But in the 1950s,
it was dangerous
to be a liberal
and an artist.
A kind of popular fascism
was developing
in the United States.
As we know now,
the situation with the FBI
and the rest of it
was far worse than anybody
even imagined in those times.
There were...
there were spies everywhere.
I found out
only 25 years later,
when I got my records
from the FBI,
that they had followed people
from my house
in Brooklyn.
They had tailed people
at a dinner party.
See, the big switch
was the turnaround
vis-a-vis the Soviet Union,
which had been our ally
and suddenly was the enemy.
And that left a whole sector
of the American population
high and dry, because these
people had been pro-Soviet
or they were at least pro-labor
and pro-all that--
- liberal.
- Rebecca: Right.
And suddenly these people
were regarded as traitors,
Man: The Committee
on Un-American Activities
is investigating
communist infiltration
in the motion picture industry.
Man 2: Victory will be assured
once communists
are identified and exposed.
Miller: Actors, directors--
Their careers were destroyed
because they wouldn't cooperate
with some, you know,
Indiana Republican
who was hounding them.
Man: Are you a member
of the Communist Party,
or have you ever been a member
of the Communist Party?
Lawson: It's unfortunate
and tragic
that I have to teach
this committee
the basic principles
of Americanism.
- ( gavel striking )
- Man: That's not
the question!
Man: John Howard Lawson
refused to answer the question
"Are you a member
of the Communist Party?"
Therefore it is the unanimous
opinion of this subcommittee
that John Howard Lawson
is in contempt of Congress.
And you got the feeling
once again
that there was no value
You know, we were all...
the subject of Big Power.
Miller: A living connection
between Washington
and the Salem witchcraft
was made in my mind.
The main point of the hearings,
precisely as in
17th century Salem,
was that the accused
make public confession.
Have you ever been a member of
the Communist Party?
- Yes or no?
- I don't believe
you have the right
to ask that question
of anybody.
I felt that it would soon be
too late to do anything--
that you would never
get a play on
or be able to say anything.
I was really quite desperate.
So while the theater
was still running,
I thought it was time
to say something.
I was on my way up to Salem
'cause I wanted to do some
research for "The Crucible."
The day before I was to leave,
Kazan phoned
and asked to see me.
I stopped off
on the way north.
And that's when he told me
that he was going to tell
about other people he knew
in the party.
- ( gavel strikes )
- They made it clear to him
that if he didn't do that,
he could never work
in films again.
So when you saw him,
how did you--
he said, "I'm doing this,"
and did you try
to dissuade him?
Well, I told him I thought
it was a terrible mistake,
that this thing
would not last--
the Un-American Committee
that if it did,
it wouldn't matter,
because we'd have fascism
in this country.
Meantime, he could
work in the theater,
there was no blacklist
in the theater.
And he said, well,
he wanted to make films.
So he thought
he had to do this.
The real villain here
was not him
or people like him.
It was the House Committee
on Un-American Activities
and Joe McCarthy.
Everybody lost sight of them.
They'd vanish
into the woodwork.
And they keep blaming these
people who were essentially...
( sighs )
Miller: I left Salem
in the late afternoon,
and the 6:00 news
came on the radio
with the black night
like a cloak thrown over
the windshield.
Man on radio: Good evening.
Today in Washington...
The announcer read a bulletin
about Elia Kazan's testimony
before the House Un-American
Activities Committee
and mentioned the people
he had named.
Man on radio: Clifford Odets,
J. Edward Bromberg...
A numbness held me.
Man on radio:
...Phoebe Brandt,
James Proctor, Lewis Leverett,
Morris Carnovsky...
It was sadness--
purely mournful; deadening.
As I headed downtown
toward the Brooklyn Bridge,
I found myself
keeping to the slow side
of the speedometer
as though to protect
what truth there was in me
from skidding into oblivion.
That I was committed
to this play
was no longer a question
for me--
I had made the decision,
without thinking about it,
somewhere between Salem
and this city.
It's about a dilemma
that every society
comes to
at one point or another,
which is when the powerful
make an alliance with the mad.
Reverend Parris:
You are all aware of the rumors
of that spirit come among us
out of Hell...
The fascinating thing to me,
that a town of this kind
could suddenly erupt
in that kind
of an explosive hysteria.
The whole attitude
of the '50s
started to develop,
where, on a different level,
with different folkways
and so on,
the same phenomenon
was occurring.
Mr. Hawthorne!
I am innocent to a witch!
I know not what a witch is.
If you know not
what a witch is,
how do you know
you are not one?!
The guilt of the victim
was very interesting to me.
You may not feel guilty for
what they've charged you with,
but that doesn't matter.
You're charged,
so you feel guilty
about something else.
The central image was that
of a guilt-ridden man,
John Proctor,
who, having slept with
his teenage servant girl,
watches with horror
as she becomes the leader
of the witch-hunting pack
and points her accusing finger
at the wife
he has himself betrayed.
The noose is up.
There'll be no noose.
Abigail wants me dead, John.
You know it.
It reflected what I was
going through in my marriage.
- Rebecca:
Guilt on your part?
- On my part.
And anger on whose part?
My own part.
Also on your part.
and my wife--
my then-wife's part.
Let you look
for some goodness in me...
and judge me not.
The magistrate
sits in your heart
that judges you.
I never thought you
but a good man, John,
only somewhat bewildered.
Oh, Elizabeth...
your justice
would freeze beer.
And yet in the play,
there's such
a beautiful reconciliation
between the wife
and the husband,
which in real life,
there wasn't.
No, there wasn't.
But I didn't get hung.
- ( laughs )
- That's the best way
to reconcile people.
You hang one of 'em,
or, if necessary, both.
Bob Miller:
Jane went up to his studio
on the top floor
of the Willow Street house,
I guess she came down,
and then she and Mom
were sort of
in Jane's bedroom,
which was right
at the bottom of the stairs,
and they were crying.
Then I was gonna go out
and say, "Well, I'm not--
I'm actually gonna
go away for a little while."
And I just remember
being sort of mystified
by the whole thing,
him and Mom
sort of hug and kiss goodbye,
and Jane and I always tittered
when they hugged and kissed
'cause we were little.
So I remember that last time
that there was a hug and a kiss
and started realizing that
that's probably the last time.
Mike Wallace: And you have
a sense of guilt about it?
Miller: Terrible.
It rolls all over you.
During our rehearsals
of "A View From the Bridge,"
on 42nd Street,
I passed a life-sized cutout
of her in the lobby
every day.
The famous laughing shot
from "The Seven Year Itch,"
in a white dress
with her skirt blowing up
over a subway grate,
whereupon I would sit
for six hours
as Van Heflin/Eddie Carbone
struggled with a compulsion
he could not nail or destroy.
The best work
that anybody ever writes
is a work that is on the verge
of embarrassing him.
It's inevitable.
Where he puts himself
on the line--
sometimes quite secretly...
sometimes symbolically.
I remember when I read
"View From the Bridge"
in college,
the way that it deals
directly with sexuality
and desire,
it seemed like a departure,
in a way,
it's filled with moral dilemma,
but it's also about
sort of insatiable desire
and sort of implacable appetite.
( typewriter keys clacking )
I guess we're all,
every artist,
there's a tendency to throw
himself into the world
and see if he floats.
Miller: When she appeared,
the future vanished.
She seemed without
and this was like freedom.
To my thoughts,
it was total honesty--
that's what knocked me out.
She seemed utterly
without guile...
completely honest
about herself
and about anything
she looked at.
Whereas the society
I came from
was very guarded,
we made judgments of people.
She accepted that everybody
was who they were
and what they were.
This appearance
of being absolutely free
was simply a disguise.
She was in a way
the most repressed person
been kicked around as a child,
she'd been abused as a child,
she'd been deserted,
She was a very courageous
human being.
It was because I loved her,
so I took that attitude
toward her.
So the best of her,
she thought,
was in my eye;
therefore the hope she had
was with me.
Rebecca: What was your
first notice that you got
that you were going
to get in trouble
with the Un-American
Activities Committee?
Well, they never bothered me
until I married Marilyn.
And then they--
they were already
on a downslope.
People were getting bored
with them,
so they saw a terrific chance
for a lot of good publicity.
I would like to say that
I'm truly confident
that, in the end,
my husband will
win this case.
( laughing )
We are a country
of entertainers.
You gotta be entertaining.
Even the fascists
have to be entertaining.
...truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth,
so help you God.
They were replaying
"The Crucible."
Man: Are you a member
of the Communist Party?
I'd said that I had attended
meetings of communist writers,
and they said, "Well,
was so-and-so in the room?"
And so-and-so and so-and-so
and so-and-so in the room.
And I had to say, "I'm not
gonna talk about anybody else."
Miller: I don't believe,
and I never did, that a man
has to become an informer
in order to practice
his profession freely
in the United States.
Now the important question,
Mr. Miller:
Where's Marilyn?
She's waiting for me
at home.
When I got to Washington,
the head of the committee
offered to call off
the whole hearing
if Marilyn would take
a photograph with him.
Oh, my God.
Miller: And I said they'd
better have the hearing.
A few months later
we had to go through a trial
in federal court,
and I was found guilty
of contempt.
So I was fined $500
and sentenced to a year in jail
that was suspended.
The whole thing was simply
beyond description.
How do you think
of this whole ruckus,
Miss Monroe?
Miss Monroe.
It was dreadful.
I mean, you couldn't go down
to buy a newspaper.
We couldn't just walk down
and get an ice cream.
We couldn't do that.
I mean, the simplest things.
If you're with somebody
who's that celebrated
in the world,
it distorts a lot of reality.
And so that was
a difficulty to get over.
And I never quite made it,
I admit.
Reporter: Mr. Miller,
would you make
some kind of comment
for us?
( all clamoring )
Reporter 2:
Will you be writing
from here on in?
Yes, exactly.
What'll you be
working on, exactly?
You produced very little
during your years with her.
- That's right.
- Why?
I guess, to be frank about it,
I was taking care of her.
Do I feel happy in life?
if I'm generally anything,
I guess
I'm generally miserable.
( laughter )
Basically, it was terror
that she was...
gonna be found out
as a faker.
That somebody
was gonna stand up
and make some accusations
against her.
While she could be pleasant
and fun and bubbly
and, you know, lovely,
she could go places
that were just--
she was in pain.
You could see it come over her,
kind of, in a way.
Rebecca: And you were always
trying to buck her up?
Miller: Yeah.
Trying to get her to see
the brighter side
of things.
Which is just about
the most thankless job
you can possibly imagine.
He's typically not doing things
just to please somebody else,
but I think he really did
as much as he was capable
of doing
to try and get her
to chase those demons away.
Do you think Dad
was under her spell?
I think so.
Or under his own spell,
of, you know,
of being the hero,
the savior,
the one who could turn her.
And "The Misfits," I think,
is a great example of that.
Gay Langland: I think you're
the saddest girl I ever met.
( chuckles )
You're the first man
that ever said that.
I'm usually told
how happy I am.
I just thought it would be
a terrific gift for her.
'Cause she'd never had a part
in which she was supposed
to be taken seriously.
And she wanted to do that.
I had written a story
based originally on when
I was living in Nevada,
getting a divorce.
I fell in with three cowboys
while I was there,
and they were hunting mustang.
They were warring on these
Rebecca: Yeah.
When they won,
it felt good,
and they felt confirmed
in their manhood.
You're only happy
when you can see
something die!
Why don't kill yourselves
and be happy?!
You and your
God's country!
In my film,
Gable cuts them loose
at the end.
What are you doin'?
But that didn't
often happen.
( horse neighs )
Of course...
what "The Misfits" was after
was that this is
an attempt by people
to find some way
of being at home in the world.
And the world is so hard
and so rejecting
that they cannot find a niche
in which to call home.
The picture took an enormous
amount of time
'cause she was sick
all of the time.
What was wrong with her?
She couldn't really
gain for herself
the confidence
that she had to have
to do this.
She was extremely anxious
that she wasn't
really good enough for it.
Although that's not
the way she'd express it.
She would blame people
for not treating her right.
At the last minute
she would find things
to find imperfect
about herself
if she had to be somewhere.
It was insecurity, of course,
if you want to use the word.
But, uh...
...she could be late,
missing the day's work.
So everybody's hanging around
all day long.
And the esprit of everybody
was nonexistent, finally.
Several hundred people
all leaning on
this fragile creature.
It's a terrific pressure.
( sobbing )
Guy: Come on, honey.
We're gonna have some drinks.
And the solution was
all kinds of pills and...
gigantic barbiturates.
They finally had to stop
shooting for about ten days
while she went back
to Los Angeles and...
just recuperated.
There's no explaining
a person like that.
Because you have
the gift for life, Roslyn.
The rest of us,
we're just lookin'
for a place to hide,
and watch it all go by.
Here's to your life, Roslyn.
I hope it goes on forever.
We finally got through the film,
and it was a pretty good film.
It wasn't what I had hoped.
We were separated
during the shooting.
And, uh...
well, she went back
to California
and they started shooting
another picture for Fox
that she failed to complete.
Rebecca: Yeah.
And then you moved back here?
Did you move-- Did you--
Well, I started
to live up here a lot.
As I was coming to the end
of the writing
of "After the Fall,"
the horrifying news came
that Marilyn had died,
apparently of an overdose
of sleeping pills.
When a reporter called,
asking if I would be attending
her funeral in California,
stunned as I was,
I answered, without thinking,
"She won't be there."
You were prone to walk away
from conflict, naturally.
But in your plays,
there's a continual
kind of return of conflict.
I suppose it's because,
there, I could live it out
in the literature,
in the writing,
whereas in life,
it was too painful,
you see?
So the pain
went into the writing,
whereas it was hard
to sustain it in real life.
I think that's part
of what happened.
Why do you think that is?
I don't know, I just
couldn't bear the idea of...
people trying to
destroy each other.
Because I sensed
very early on
that all real arguments
are murderous.
There was a killing instinct
in there that I feared.
So I put it into
the theater.
Man: "After the Fall,"
Act One.
The action takes place
in the mind, thought,
and memory of Quentin.
It was partly out of a book,
which is never mentioned,
and that was Camus' book
in which a man observes
a young woman
who throws herself
into a rushing river.
He doesn't go
to save her.
My question was,
what if he had saved her?
See, I think that
all suicides are murdered.
Uh, they are the victims
of aggression...
or sometimes the victims
of truth.
Maggie, you want to die,
and I don't know
how to prevent it.
In "After the Fall,"
one of the partners
of this marriage
cannot go forward
with the illusion
that the other one has.
It means she dies alone,
or they both go down.
Or whoever can save himself,
saves himself.
In "After the Fall,"
Quentin essentially
is trying himself
for being able--to--
for the fact that
he could have killed Maggie.
In that sense,
it reflects
- the relationship
with Marilyn?
- Yeah, sure.
He's gonna put me away
somewhere, is that it?
Quentin: No, the doctor
isn't considering--
You're not gonna
put me anywhere,
Maggie, you have got
to be supervised!
Rebecca: And reconciling
yourself with the fact
that you didn't save her,
but that in a sense,
- you can't save anybody,
on some level.
- That's right.
You got people
who were far more
difficult to change
than I had allowed myself
to believe.
Tell me what happened.
Maggie, we used
one another.
It was a very good production.
It was very well done,
and very successful
with the audience.
It experienced a lot
of very strident,
ugly criticism...
and some extraordinarily
vicious attacks.
And...I managed
to have an illusion
that this wasn't really Marilyn.
Which it wasn't, really.
But it was close enough.
What's sort of wonderful
about the play is,
it's so profoundly broken,
it's unsparing
and it's brave,
and I love the fact
that he couldn't make it cohere
because what
he's grappling with,
you know, he could never
completely, you know,
he was--he was putting his
finger in the electric socket.
"After the Fall" is, you know,
he's too angry at her,
he's too...devastated
by what that suicide...
meant to him
as a repudiation of himself,
as a narcissistic injury.
Um...I mean,
he was too frightened by her,
and he can't quite, you know--
He does much better with Inge.
Inge Miller:
It was a good year,
you think?
Well, I don't want
to think about it.
- Why?
- Too good.
I'm gonna cut up
this here chicken.
Whoa, this is cutting...
a dream.
It is cutting rightly?
Miller: We met--
I was in a swimming pool.
Inge: No, we first met when
I came with Cartier-Bresson
to photograph "The Misfits."
The first time
I listened to you,
you were in the swimming pool.
But we didn't--
I hardly saw her there.
No. No. We were working,
both of us, very hard.
She was busy photographing
But then we met again...
a year later?
Or maybe-- I went off
to Argentina.
First I want to France
to photograph
"Aimez-vous Brahms?"
Then I went to Argentina
to photograph
a crazy movie with Yul Brynner
called "Taras Bulba."
And then I came back,
and then I met you again
like, maybe half a year later,
in the Magnum office.
You were looking for pictures
I had taken,
which they were making
a book out of
about "The Misfits."
I don't remember that,
but I'm sure it happened.
My mother suffered a lot
during the war
and after the war.
She had to work in
a munitions factory in Berlin.
She was interrogated
by Nazi officials
because she wouldn't join
the Hitler Youth,
even though her father
was a member of the Nazi Party.
Inge: I was in Berlin
in a factory.
It was heavily bombed--
And when Berlin fell,
where did you go?
I walked from Berlin
to Salzburg,
because there was no transport.
Everybody was walking, fleeing,
there were refugees,
dead horses,
and all the people
from the east
with dead babies and--
So you kind of lose your mind
a little bit.
As much as she was somewhat
of a damaged person by that,
she was also such a hugely
positive dynamo of a woman.
She was the first
female photographer
to be a full member
of Magnum Photos.
( camera shutter clicking )
And really built herself
a spectacular life,
filled with work
and love affairs
and a beautiful apartment
and wonderful clothes,
and she met Arthur,
and he was a very wounded
person at that point.
( typewriter keys clacking )
She believed in him
She believed in his talent,
and also in him as a person.
And I think that
he had come to a point
where he felt terrible
about himself.
And I think that
she rejuvenated him.
Arthur was very--
he was a very lonely man,
very lonesome,
because when I first came,
there was just
one or two friends,
I mean, nobody--
nobody came.
I mean, I bring in
all these folks and friends,
I think in many ways,
because he doesn't know
how to reach out.
Did you see a lot of the family
when you got married?
Inge: Yes, I saw them a lot,
and they liked me
because I was doing something,
you know, being a photographer
was fun for them,
and they came with me,
so I always had
a very good relationship
with both Bobby and Jane.
Bob: That house
was really not
a real home,
- until she came around,
you know.
- Rebecca: Yeah.
Inge sort of put flowers
on the table,
and, you know,
curtain on the windows,
where it just--
it started to feel lived in.
He seemed to be refreshed
and renewed
and kind of
reinvigorated by it.
For three days we went out
and climbed the hillside,
planting the hundreds
of seedlings out of the pail.
My wife Inge, pregnant then,
carefully set roots
in the slits I was cutting
with a flat spade.
Did you always think
that you were always going
to stay married to Arthur?
No. No, not because of Arthur,
but, simply,
I didn't think anybody--
I don't know, everything was
kind of a temporary idea.
We were--
We were ready to try it.
When I was born,
my father was the one
who knew more about babies.
My mother picked out
a baby carriage for me
which was, in fact,
a doll's carriage.
My father had to inform her
that I needed something bigger.
I've been thinking
about fatherhood
and about what you think
makes a good father.
Oh, well...
I think we create,
especially the children,
create these definitions.
'Cause they have to--
they're helpless.
So they create the definition
this-- this great force
which can sweep them away
or comfort them.
And it's got sometimes
very little to do
with what the great force
is feeling.
Uh, I enjoyed being a father.
I enjoyed, also,
escaping being a father.
Bob: You know,
much of that relationship,
as it went on
through the years,
was really trying to catch him
when he had some time to,
you know, spend time.
What was he doing?
What he always did, you know--
he was writing.
I mean, that's what he did.
- Right.
- When he was in his studio,
we tippy-toed around the studio
and you could hear
the keys clacking
and you knew that
you couldn't go in there.
I think at times
he was only interested
in what interested him.
There were times
when he might be interested
in something
because he could use it.
I was always in and out
of my skin,
I just couldn't be a father
24 hours a day...
and still do
what I was thinking
I had to do.
I mean, my mind would go off
in whatever direction
it was going,
and then you say,
"Oh, my God, I forgot
to pick up my son,"
who's standing on a corner.
Bob: I don't think he ever
really understood--
felt that he understood me
in a way that he felt
he could be of much help.
As we were getting
to a place where we maybe
could have a constructive
father-son relationship,
it was at the same time
when the generations
were getting
further and further apart.
So I was obviously gonna go
where the energy was for me,
which was into
the counterculture,
and he couldn't go there.
And so in some ways
it sort of was manifested
in the relationship,
he kind of was dismayed
by it all.
When I was growing up,
he continued to write,
but his life had become
much less public,
much more private.
I think he might have been
sheltering himself
with his family.
Do you think
it was harder to be...
in terms of--
for daughters or sons,
do you think that
that would have affected us?
My own view is that
it's harder to be a son,
because there's a certain
competition going on there.
It's inevitable. It's like if
you watch the animal kingdom,
the most dangerous
person or animal
to the young male
is his father.
He would confide in me.
He would talk to me
about his worries
about being able to write.
I don't even know if I answered
a lot of the time.
I think it was as if
I was part of him.
But the father
that I knew for the most part
was a very funny, cuddly,
We would laugh so much.
- Where's the nails, Dad?
- Hand the nails out!
- ( both laughing )
- OK. Now--
You gotta nail it--
No, you just stand still
and try and keep your head
at a level
that you enjoy being
most of the day.
The object is
to cut them all even.
- Right.
- So I don't look like--funny.
- Ow! It hurts!
- ( laughing )
We cover them with myth.
The parent is always
a mythological figure.
It's the basis
of all mythology,
after all.
With Zeus...
he says-- You know,
he's the father.
He's the guy who throws
the thunderbolts.
Kills you, or raises you up...
into glory.
Do you remember
when Danny was born?
Dad called and said that
it was a Down syndrome baby,
that the baby was a boy,
and that he and Inge
were deciding what to do,
and I think I may have said,
"Well, what do you mean?"
and he said, "Well...
we may decide that he'll be
better off in an institution."
The way he put it was,
"The doctors said this is
probably what we should do.
Back then they were told to
not bring the children home
and for them to grow up
in another environment.
( typewriter keys clacking )
Rebecca: So, the reason
I'm not showing my brother
in this film
is to protect his privacy.
But he does have
a very happy life now,
and an independent life,
and we've become very close.
My mother visited my brother
all of her life,
but she was somewhat
isolated in that.
Over the years,
my father visited him
more and more
and he developed
more and more of
a relationship with him.
But publically,
he never mentioned him,
and he wasn't in
the autobiography--
it wasn't easy
for either of my parents
to talk about him.
I had the opportunity to finish
this film in the 1990s,
but I didn't know
how to finish the film
without talking about
my brother,
and I didn't really know
how to do that.
And I told my father this,
and he offered to do
an interview about it.
And I put it off.
And I put it off
for a long time.
And I had children,
and I started making
other films,
and...he died.
And now we'll never know
what that interview
would have said.
Lyndon Johnson:
I have today ordered to Vietnam
125,000 men...
...that this is really war.
( students chanting )
I was more of a rebel
than a revolutionary
in that situation.
I wanted to protest,
but I didn't want
to establish a new rule
of violence--
and some of them did.
But many of 'em
were very brave people.
Mr. Miller, why did you
refuse the invitation
of President Johnson
to come to Washington
to witness
the signing of this bill?
I have very strong feelings
that we are at a crisis
where the president must act
in a way that he's not acting.
This seems like endless war.
He, I think, obviously
supported the politics
of what was going on,
and as it became less political,
and had to do
with smoking dope
and so on and so forth,
he was pretty mystified.
And the '60s
was a total upheaval.
Not just for me,
but in general.
And I couldn't, really,
express my-- my sense of...
uh, the time.
The theater
had lost its prestige.
The young folks
were looking in an entirely
different direction
for their ideas
and for their feelings.
I remember I had a very
successful play, "The Price,"
at that time.
It's the first time
that he really just sort of
announced a kind of Yiddish...
it's not shtick,
but that diction.
And he had such a phenomenal ear
for it.
Gregory Solomon:
You called me,
so I came.
What should I do,
lay down and die?
In "Salesman," the family
could be a Protestant family.
Certainly the people
in "View From the Bridge"
are Italian-Americans.
In "Crucible," he worked
to find a constrained
early American speech
for those people.
And then you finally feel
when the junk dealer
shows up in that attic...
Will you be very long,
Mr. Solomon?
Gregory Solomon:
Well, with furniture,
you never know--
can be short, can be long--
can be medium.
And it's like, "Ahh...
there it is."
Mike Wallace:
How Jewish are you?
Absolutely Jewish, sure.
But I just inherited,
I think from my father,
the attitude
of being an American
more than a Jew.
Even though my play
was successful,
I had wonderful people in it,
it was very nicely done,
but you got the feeling
it didn't matter anymore.
The whole game
was not worth the candle.
So you made people
feel this or feel that
or laugh or weep--
so, what the hell's
the difference?
What's the point of it all?
Miller: I didn't feel
there was anybody out there
who was interested--
I felt I was shouting
into a barrel.
For example,
this whole Cain and Abel story.
It was to reverse
the usual process.
The usual process is,
there's God,
and he creates the people.
In my play, the people
are there first,
and they create the god.
Whom they proceed to obey
and adorn with
all kinds of powers.
What it was
was an attempt to show
why there had to be some kind
of a moral system,
or there would be
the end of the world.
I thought that was interesting,
but nobody got it.
Not very-- really very much.
( birds singing,
squawking )
My perception
as I grew up,
which was basically
the '70s,
was that you had
a lot of disappointments
in the theater
during that time.
Mostly, I would say. Yeah.
I agree with you.
It was horrifying.
I mean, the way Arthur
was treated by critics,
is, you know-- if anybody
cares about theater criticism,
they should certainly feel
that it is a permanent
mark of shame.
Just dismissing play
after play after play,
and sort of "Well, you know,
it's just..."
And with a kind of laziness,
just this kind of,
"Why do we care what
this old man
has to say about anything?"
Rebecca: Did you ever feel that
you were losing
your muse?
I felt that I was out of place,
more than anything else.
I tell you why, concretely,
it's because in Europe
my stuff was always accepted.
It worked on-- whether it be
in Britain or Germany...
very often France, Italy.
Rebecca: I think it was hurtful
for him that in his own country
he was dismissed.
But he also had
this kind of ebullience
and belief in himself
that just kept bubbling up,
you know, that was
his essential life-force.
8:00, he was at his desk,
and he'd come down at noon.
It was like punching
a timeclock, I mean,
this to him was a--
he had a workingman's schedule,
like a blue collar ethic
of his.
You know, and my father,
when he wasn't working
on his plays
or when he wasn't writing,
in terms of our everyday life,
it was all oriented
around work.
His idea was like,
"If you can make it yourself,
you should make it yourself."
He made the coffee table,
he made the dining table,
he made the bookshelves
I remember when I asked
for a stereo
when I was
something like 14 years old.
Instead of getting the plastic
stereo that I was hoping for,
that everyone else had,
my father made me a stereo
out of wood.
And he had found
these enormous knobs
out of--from the dump.
- Do you still write?
- Writing every day,
right up in that building.
- Plays?
- Yeah. I'm writing
a play now.
Don't ask me why,
but I love doing it.
Did some work on that play.
I think it's pretty good now--
to my surprise.
Look, you write long enough--
If you quit, that's one thing.
If you're gonna go on writing,
the art is to turn your back on
what hasn't worked,
and go forward to what you think
might well work.
'Cause a human being
is many-faceted,
there are all kinds
of different emotions
and attitudes
that we're all capable of,
and you gotta find those
that communicate something.
I never blame other people.
You can't do that.
'Cause it's not true.
One day they'll catch up
with something, or they won't.
But the voice is
the important thing,
that you don't go silent.
Speeding? OK.
Man: Yeah, 39 and 8.
OK, Pop.
Yeah, we're on.
All right, this is
not so much a play
as an exploration
of an area between
life and death.
And it may someday be a play;
at the moment,
it's simply a long fragment.
Well, the play I'm doing now
is basically an instinctual
piece of work.
"People want. They want,
and they don't know
what they want.
The American closet is full
of perfectly good clothes
that they can't see themselves
wearing anymore.
Instinctual in the sense
that I'm relying on the fact
that inside of my head,
there is a structure,
whose outlines
I can't detect at this point,
but whose emotional sound
and weight and color
I feel very strongly.
I wouldn't have done that
25 years ago.
- You see?
- Rebecca: Mm-hmm.
But in this play,
what's making you write,
what's the theme
that's pushing you ahead?
Or is there one?
I think it's more--
it's less a theme
than an air of wonder...
an air of wonder
and amusement...
at people.
And how...
how wonderful they are.
- Man: It's excellent!
- Inge: I love it!
- ( overlapping chatter )
- That's as far as I got.
Inge: It's really great.
( laughing )
It's fun, isn't it?
Rebecca: Oh, yeah,
you gotta--
It's all one improvisation
after another.
Inge: Yeah,
but it's marvelous.
Well, here it is.
Young Man: Well,
what would you say God is?
Or is that too definite?
Mr. Peters:
Not at all.
God is precisely
what is not there
when you need Him.
( chatter )
Arthur, it's just like
a great jazz riff.
It's so bold.
Well, that's what
I was trying to get at.
But do you think
there is a critic in New York
who's gonna see that?
( Guare speaking )
Well, what can I say?
What was his thrust?
Basically, that it was boring.
He saw no insights in it,
he saw nothing much in it.
This is Lola Cavindo,
whom I called
on the mobile telephone.
She said that in the ABC
was a big article
loving "Mr. Peters' Connection."
Some Spanish person saw it.
And it was a big thing,
and it's the "ao
of Arthur Miller,"
and "nominado para Tony,
y todo, y todo, y todo."
She's very excited,
and she says she never
reads reviews anyway.
It will have to...
find another way
to penetrate.
'Cause this will kill it...
for this run.
But I have no questions
about it. It'll come back.
Art is long.
What do you mean?
Life is short.
I forgot the Latin.
( crying ) You gave her
Mama's stockings.
I gave you an order!
Don't touch me,
you liar!
You apologize
for that!
You fake!
That Dustin Hoffman
revival of "Salesman"
was the beginning
of a kind of renaissance--
all the old plays
started to get done again
in this country
and all over the world.
( dialogue spoken in Japanese )
It's the happiest thing
in my professional life,
I think.
( cheering )
I mean, some of these plays
are 50 years old.
There aren't many things
in this culture
that are 50 years old
that are still usable.
"'A View From the Bridge'
prompts something
of the emotional response
one is supposed to feel,
but seldom does,
when seeing 'King Lear'
or 'Oedipus Rex.'
Mr. Miller again shows us
that contemporary plays
can still move, disturb,
provoke, and even shock."
Pretty good!
Miller: Well, you see,
if you wait long enough...
"The Crucible"
is gonna start shooting
in about a week.
My son Bobby is producing it--
your brother.
I know.
Yeah, they built a whole town
on an island,
unbelievably enough,
off the coast
of Massachusetts.
It really looks like--
you walk in there,
and you're in
a different time.
It's like a dream!
Rebecca: But it's amazing,
isn't it,
that they're doing
all these plays now
at once?
What do you think
that is?
I really don't know.
it happens in life,
you know?
People suddenly wake up
and say,
"Oh, yeah, that."
And they do them.
But I wouldn't take it
too seriously.
They'll forget about 'em
soon enough.
- ( feigns snoring )
- Don't be so pessimistic!
Pessimism is one defense
I have against optimism.
There's your mother,
crawling down the hill.
- See the path I cut there?
- Inge: Yeah, we went there.
We went in there already.
- Isn't that a nice path?
- It's beautiful.
It's beautiful!
You can go right onto the brook
and then up in the--
Tomorrow we should make
a longer walk,
up in the woods
with a hard-boiled egg.
Yes, we can plant
a hard-boiled egg in the woods.
- ( typewriter keys clacking )
- That's a pretty one.
She used to go on trips
to photograph various things.
And she would go
for about two weeks,
She realized he could stand it
for two weeks
to be on his own.
You want the wing?
Why not?
Rebecca: And then
she had to come back.
Well, you know,
to be a couple is--
is work.
Mix up the salad.
Mix up the salad.
I have to warm.
Otherwise, it gets cold.
It's not warm,
it's not right.
I've lived alone a long time,
and I totally enjoyed
living alone.
But now I'm--
Well, it's a kind of a mutual
love and respect,
and to be there for somebody,
and somebody there for you,
is wonderful.
- See where this stick is?
- Yeah?
Well, it should go...
They're naming a street
after her. Did you know that?
I didn't know that.
- Inge: In the village.
- It's gonna be
Calle Inge Morath.
- Where?
- In a Spanish village.
They saw their photographs,
you know, in the Spanish show.
They couldn't believe it.
They said, "You put us
into history!
Could we name a street
after you?"
They're making a big festivity
on the 12th.
We did a couple of books,
one about China, about Russia,
about the countryside here,
an intimate coming-together
between two disciplines.
She's just terrific.
Let's face it.
I can say that after--
how many years?
35 years? Married to her.
That's a long time.
It's longer than that.
Longer? Yeah.
But it seemed like a day.
Inge was diagnosed
with lymphoma,
and she lived with it
for a couple of years,
and Arthur was
very close by her.
But then suddenly
she got very sick and died.
And that came
as a shock to him.
It felt like the death of
a very young woman, strangely.
And he was quite lost
after that.
When your mother died
I wrote him a letter,
and I got such a letter back.
And the letter ended about
how what he realized now
was that we're all
hanging by a thread.
Man: You ever think
of what your obituary
might mean or say,
and what you would
want it to say?
What would you
want it to say?
- "Writer."
- Writer.
Well, tell me more.
That's all.
That...should say it.
All right. You set?
OK, Pop!
There are thousands of plays
that come and go
and nobody can sustain
any great interest in them
over any period of time.
But for works of any degree
of seriousness,
they're presenting
some question
as to what is real
and what is simply ephemera.
I mean, no play is finished;
plays are abandoned.
And they're abandoned because
you can only get so close,
and then it doesn't allow you
to come any closer.
Close to...?
To the hidden narrative,
hidden truth
of what's goin' on.
It reminds me a little bit
of the idea of Kabbalah, even.
Yeah. I think that's a--
there is a resemblance.
It's almost as though
the human being is a work
of the imagination,
of somebody's imagination,
maybe God's imagination.
So do you think that
a play is a great play
because it reflects something
deeply about human nature,
or that is has some little bit
of what you would call,
in this case, "God" in it?
I'm not sure what it's saying
about human nature,
I think it's the process
of approaching
the unwritten and the unspoken
and the unspeakable.
And the closer you get to it,
the more life there seems to be.
Miller: I have lived
more than half my life
in the Connecticut countryside,
all the time expecting to get
some play or book finished,
so I can spend more time
in the city,
where everything is happening.
But little happens here
that I don't make happen,
except the sun
coming up and going down
and the leaves emerging
and dropping off,
and an occasional surprise,
like the recent appearance
of coyotes in the woods.
And I am in this room,
from which I can sometimes
look out at dusk,
and see them warily moving
through the barren
winter trees,
and I am, I suppose,
doing what they're doing--
making myself possible
for those who come after me.
I am a mystery to them
until they tire of it
and move on,
but the truth--
the first truth, probably--
is that we are all connected,
watching one another,
even the trees.
( music playing )