Director Elia Kazan's first film, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn shows that the filmmaker's great empathy for his characters was already quite evident at this early juncture, and this endures as one of the most moving Hollywood dramas of the 1940s. Based on Betty Smith's novel – a bestseller in the U.S. but also one of the most popular books among American soldiers overseas in WWII – Kazan's debut is a sensitive, masterful adaptation.
Set among Brooklyn tenements circa 1912, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a portrait of the Nolans, an Irish-American family living in financially challenging circumstances, often made worse by father Johnny's drinking and employment problems. But matriarch Katie keeps the family together through all the obstacles, caring for son Neeley and daughter Francie, as well as Katie's outspoken, oft-married sister Sissy. But just as Francie's gift for writing opens up new avenues, more tragic developments test the family's resolve.
Winning Academy Awards for actors James Dunn (as Johnny) and Peggy Ann Garner (as Francie), and featuring splendid work by Dorothy McGuire and Joan Blondell, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a heartfelt testament to the strength of family, and offers an early indication of Kazan's unrivalled proficiency with actors.
1080p transfer of the film on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration completed from a 4K scan of the original film elements
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Feature-length commentary by Richard Schickel with Elia Kazan, Ted Donaldson, and Normal Lloyd
The Making of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
An Appreciation of Dorothy McGuire
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Hollywood Star Time: Original radio broadcast version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from 1946, starring Peggy Ann Garner, James Dunn and Joseph Kearns
PLUS: a collector’s booklet featuring new essays by Kat Ellinger, Phil Hoad, and Philip Kemp, alongside rare archival imagery