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December 15, 1989 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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SHERWOOD
CLEARANCE
CENTER

Lights! Camera! War!

Continued from preceding page

films, Gomez says. "In fact,
they were hostile. They were
afraid if anyone brought up
the issue it would backfire
and there would be more an-
ti-Semitism."

Gentleman's Agreement

V
AV
O

O

DAYS
OFF
ONLY
SAT. & SUN.
8r_ MORE
DEC. 16 & 17
THIS
SAT. & SUN.
SECTIONALS
DINETTE SETS Speaker Traces History
TAKE AN
SOFAS - TABLES Of Jews In The Cinema
ADD'L
The first "talkie" also was
DINING ROOMS ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM
about a Jewish subject. The
Jazz Singer is the story of a
FINE DESIGNER
young Jewish man struggl-
lancy had a kosher
ing between modern life and
wedding. Abie had an
FURNITURE AT
the traditions of his parents,
OFF
Irish Rose. And the
deciding "whether to take
Cohens and the Kelleys
up
instead of Kol Nidre
OUTSTANDING SAVINGS went
traveling together to
services," Friedman said.
Paris, Africa and

was a first, but producer
Samuel Goldwyn in the ear-
ly 1940s had considered a
similar project.
The vehicle for his film
was to be the novel Earth
and High Heaven,the story
of a well-to-do Canadian
Protestant girl and a poor
Jewish lawyer who want to
wed. The girl's anti-Semitic

20%

;14

father will have none of it.
"I believe it's a great love
story," Goldwyn said to his
son. "And as for the conflict
over the Jewish question,
it's something that has
never been done before and
that's a contribution I want
to make for the screen."
Goldwyn never got around
to making Earth and High
Heaven, but he never forgot
about it, author Scott Berg
says in his biography of the
producer.
"Not making that one film
haunted him more than
most of his failures." ❑

Features Editor

C

jazz

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32

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1989

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Hollywood.

Jews and Irish immigrants
were often paired in 1920
films like Clancy's Kosher

Wedding, Abie's Irish Rose

and The Cohens and the
Kelleys, the latter "a kind of
ethnic Laurel and Hardy," ac-
cording to Dr. Lester Fried-
man, author of The Jewish

Image in American Film.
Friedman, in town this
week as a guest of the Anti-
Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith and the Jewish Com-
munity Center, spoke at the
Maple/Drake JCC on "Jews
in American Cinema."
The lecture was presented
in conjunction with an ex-
hibit about the history of
Jews in the cinema. The ex-
hibit will run through Dec.
21.
From the 1903 production
Levy and Cohen, the Irish
Comedians to the 1988
Crossing Delancy, movies
have been filled with images
of Jews carefully considered
by Jews and non-Jews alike,
Friedman said.
"Some movie goers may
never in their daily lives
have met a Jew. But they
will encounter hundreds and
hundreds of Jews on the
movie screen. America came
to know its Jews through
film," he said.

In the early days of the
cinema, Jews were por-
trayed exotically, Friedman
said. Film makers made
hundreds of features about
Jews.

Although the early 1930s
saw numerous Irish-Jewish
comedies, Hollywood vir-
tually ignored Jews
throughout most of the
decade. Friedman cited The
Life of Emile Zola, in which
Alfred Dreyfuss is never
identified as Jewish.
In the 1940s, Hollywood
parallelled real life as it pro-
duced numerous films about
Jewish assimilation s
Later in the decade, pro-
ducers for the first time
made movies addressing an-
ti-Semitism in America.
These included Cross Fire
and Gentleman's Agreement.
The latter was "one of the
first films that showed how
difficult it is to be a Jew in
America," Friedman said.

Gentleman's Agreement

tells the story of a gentile
who assumes the identity of
a Jew to experience anti-
Semitism firsthand. After
seeing the movie, one viewer
told producer Moss Hart he
had learned a valuable
lesson.
"Now I know you have to
be nice to Jews," he said.
"You never know when they
could turn out to be gen-
tiles."
Friedman said films of the
1950s often had Jewish
characters, though these
were played by non-Jewish
actors. The exception was
the series about "Molly
Goldberg," which was "a
virtual compendium of good-
natured Jewish
stereotypes." The lead
character was plump and
cheerful —the typical image

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