“Millions of people nowadays are religious only in the vaguest sense. I’ve often wondered why the Jews among them still go on calling themselves Jews. Do you know, Mr. Green? Because the world still makes it an advantage not to be one. Thus it becomes a matter of pride to go on calling ourselves Jews.” – Professor Fred Lieberman
Number of Times Seen – between 5 and 10 (21 March 2001 on TV, DVD, 13 Jun 2013)
Brief Synopsis – A reporter goes undercover as a Jew to try and ferret out real antisemitism in NYC.
My Take on it – I am still amazed after all these years that this movie was ever made. It came out in the theaters two years after the end of WWII and doesn’t even mention the war with Germany or Germany’s attempted destruction of the Jews. It also came out at the time where many of the movie studios were headed by Jews who supposedly tried convincing the Director Elia Kazan against making the movie because of it’s theme of tolerance and bigotry.
Subsequently, a scene was added to the movie which portrayed the magazine’s publishers (who are Jews) trying to convince the editor not to do the series on antisemitism. Knowing that makes the scene even more poignant.
The acting is great. Gregory Peck is great as the main character trying to find out of there is antisemitism in 1940’s NYC. John Garfield is also great as his one Jewish friend who himself had been exposed to antisemitism all his life. Dorothy Mcguire plays a potential love interest and Celeste Holm (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this movie) plays a colleague at the magazine. Anne Revere plays Peck’s mother (even though she was only 12 years his senior). Look for a very young Dean Stockwell as Peck’s son.
Movie was nominated for 8 Oscars and won 3 (Picture, Director and Best Supporting Actress – Holm). It lost Best Actor (Peck), Actress (McGuire), S. Actress (Revere), Screenplay and Film Editing.
Many of this movies key players were called before the HUAC in the 1950’s or were blacklisted including Kazan, Revere and Garfield.
Kazan, (who cooperated with HUAC and named names) notoriously was booed at the Oscars when he received an honorary Oscar in 1999.
Revere took the 5th and didn’t work for 20 years
Garfield was blacklisted twice and ended up having a heart attack at the young age of 39 possibly due to all the stress involved with the black-listings.
Bottom Line – Great movie that tries to tackle a “real world” problem. Expertly done. Highly Recommended.
Rating – Oscar Worthy