Description of Film: From director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire) comes this amazing look at anti-Semitism in America. The movie was made in 1947 and one of the first to really deal with this particular issue. Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird) stars as the widowed journalist Philip Schuyler Green who moves to New York to work for a prominent, liberal newspaper. His new editor assigns him to a story that he is less than thrilled about covering. He is to write about anti-Semitism. With some reluctance, he takes the story and begins thinking of various ways to look at the issue. He wants to examine it in a new light, in a way that hasn’t been done before. After a few failed attempts, he has an epiphany of sorts. He is new to New York society and realizes that he can use this to his advantage by pretending to be a Jew himself. From there, the story really unfolds. During his accidental journey of self-discovery, Green finds that the dark underbelly of prejudice exists not only in blatant forms, but can also be found in more reclusive, hidden areas that extend even to the upper crust of New York society. His story takes some interesting turns as he lives his life for eight weeks as Philip Greenburg.
The movie earned eight Academy Award nominations and won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Celeste Holm).
Why I Recommend This Film: I like this movie because it gets right at the heart of something that is a huge problem. This movie deals with anti-Semitism in its most quiet form - - the white-collar side of the problem, the people who claim that they are not Anti-Semitic, but would never have a Jew in their home. It is also an important movie because it talks about how “It [bigotry] begins with a word.” This is one of the great quotations of this movie.
Why This is Important: Even though this movie was made in 1947, it strikes at the heart of an issue that remains a problem today. This movie deals with Anti-Semitism in its most “polite,” yet most harmful, form. This movie features characters who would tell you that they are not anti-Semitic, but who harbor anti-Semitism deep within themselves. These are the hardest people to change because while they may consider themselves “politically correct,” they still will laugh at and even tell hateful and offensive jokes.
Screenplay is based on the book “Gentleman’s Agreement,” by Laura Z. Hobson
Favorite Quotation: "Why, some of my best friends are Jewish." "And some of your best friends are Methodist also. But you don't make a point of saying that, do you?"