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October 17, 2013 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-10-17

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

ONG HU4

FINE CHINESE DINING

A Cinematic History

wonderful adventure in fine dining" — Danny Raskin

Jewish assimilation to Jewish renewal.

Morton Teicher
Special to the Jewish News

I

n an industry strongly influenced
by American filmmakers who
made and continue to make
the decisions as to which films are
produced for the big
screen, the often com-
plex and ever-changing
nature of the American
Jewish condition has
had considerable
impact on American
cinema — and, in par-
ticular, how Jews have
been reflected in the
movies.
As the title sug-
gests, The American

strains between American Jews and
their immigrant parents are explored.
Later versions appeared that fea-
tured Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis and
Neil Diamond. Yiddish variations of
The Jazz Singer also were produced.
The immigrant generation is personi-
fied in the father, a cantor
who is ill or dying just
before Yom Kippur. The
American Jew has inher-
ited his father's singing
ability but is using it to
become a Broadway star,
and the conflict focuses
on whether or not he will
take his father's place in
the synagogue for Kol
Nidre.

Gentleman's Agreement
Jewish Story Through
and Crossfire, both
Eric Goldman
Cinema (University of
released in 1947,
Texas Press; $55 hard-
explored anti-Semitism
cover/$25 paperback),
in the United States.
Th,
by Eric A. Goldman,
Interestingly, sev-
explores American
eral leaders of American
JEWISH
Jewish history by
Jewish
organizations
STORY .
examining movies as
and
Hollywood
moguls,
THROUGH *'
reflections of the expe-
mostly
Jews,
were
CINEMA
riences encountered by
opposed to making these
American Jews.
films.
Author Goldman
It was a non-Jewish
is well-qualified to
41101men
producer, Daryl F.
undertake this task. He
Zanuck, who success-
is a teacher in the field
fully advocated making
of film studies, lecturing at Queens
Gentleman's Agreement. Both films
College, Yeshiva University and the
were well received and, according to
Jewish Theological Seminary in New
Goldman, they "were part of a coming
York.
of age for America's Jews:'
In the first half of the 20th century,
A chapter on Irwin Shaw's The
Jewish movie moguls shied away from
Young Lions ably examines how this
film represents American Jews in the
asserting a Jewish image on screen for
fear they might be too closely identi-
period following World War II. This
fied with the characters represented
is followed by a chapter on Barbra
on film. Over the next two decades,
Streisand, focusing on The Way We
Jewish filmmakers became more com-
Were and The Prince of Tides.
fortable with the concept of a Jewish
The last two chapters discuss
hero and an overpowered, yet heroic,
Avalon, Liberty Heights and Everything
Israel. Eventually, the Holocaust
Is Illuminated — leaving the door
assumed center stage as having the
wide open for a sequel further focus-
greatest effect on Jewish identity, fol-
ing on the contemporary Hollywood
lowed by the modern era, in which
scene. ❑
American screenwriters, directors and
producers have become increasingly
Eric Goldman will appear at
comfortable with their heritage, spot-
the JCC Jewish Book Fair in
lighting Jewish protagonists, experi-
West Bloomfield at 8 p.m.
ences and challenges.
Thursday, Nov. 7. Tickets are
After an overview introduction,
$8 for JCC members and $10
Goldman devotes six chapters in his
for nonmembers. The event will
book to looking in depth at nine films,
beginning with the first talking pic-
include film clips. Info: www.
jccdet.org . Check out our special
ture, 1927's The Jazz Singer, starring
Book Fair package on Oct. 31.
Al Jolson, in which the stresses and

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October 17 • 2013

45

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