Number of Times Seen – At least 3 times (Video in the 80’s, 14 Aug 2001 and 7 Jul 2016)
Brief Synopsis – After a Neo-Nazi group declares that they will march in a Chicago suburb, the residents(including many Jews and Holocaust Survivors) must band together to try and stop them. Based on a True Story.
My Take on it – This is a movie that they showed us in High School when trying to teach us about tolerance and the ideas of free speech.
This movie was specifically chosen because of the fact that I went to a Jewish High School and many of us were familiar with real Holocaust Survivors and could relate to much of what the characters are debating and going through throughout the story.
Danny Kaye is superb as the main character and it’s even more special that this role was the last of his career and basically his only real dramatic role… what a way to send off a long career! The fact that he himself was Jewish made the role even more personal for him to take on and therefore gave an even more moving performance.
I liked the way that they showed the different “camps” of thought on how to deal with bullies and the debate between the sides continues throughout the whole film.
We also get the side of the group wishing to hold the march who are trying to execute their right to free assembly despite most sides here agreeing that their ideas are abhorrent.
The question remains; should abhorrent speech still be given the opportunity to state their opinions even if they offend people? or should they be stopped from stating their views in public because of the disgusting nature of their ideas?
I honestly don’t know the answer, but being biased based on my religion in this case makes it hard for me to impartially decide.
Regardless, the debate is presented extremely well from all sides both in and out of court.
Besides Kaye, the supporting cast is superb; Carl Reiner, Eli Wallach, John Rubinstein, Kim Hunter, Brian Dennehy, George Dzundza, Ed Flanders, Chelcie Ross and Lee Strasberg.
Bottom Line – Amazingly moving and poignant story that really makes one think about free speech and tolerance. Great seeing Kaye cap his career with such a powerful dramatic performance that was very personal for him. Great supporting cast including Reiner, Wallach, Rubinstein, Hunter, Dennehy, Dzundza, Flanders, Ross and Strasberg. Very emotional theme that works really well and gives the viewer much to think about even days later. Highly Recommended!
MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – This would be the final appearance of Danny Kaye before motion picture cameras, and the last of only two dramatic performances. The other performance being the “Ragpicker,” in the 1969 film The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) starring Katharine Hepburn. (From IMDB)
Rating – Oscar Worthy
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