Nov. 30, 2008, 8:08 a.m. CST
What he said.
Nov. 30, 2008, 8:18 a.m. CST
I confess that as a Jewish American, I didn't quite "get" this movie. I know that anti-Semitism has been a problem in some places and times (as has prejudice against Catholics, Irish, Poles, French, Germans, English, Africans, and too many other groups to list). However, the only time I've ever encountered anti-Semitism in America, it was so ridiculous that I almost burst out laughing. Maybe I've just had a sheltered life. I dunno.
Nov. 30, 2008, 8:45 a.m. CST
Well, there's no doubt that the US has been the most tolerant place for jews in history. However, when the movie was made, jews were probably the most discriminated group of european descent. Many school, country club, job, had unwritten law against jews. Some events during WW2 might even suggest that a few US officials were antisemite and deliberately sent back jews to their death in Germany. However, today, I would agree with you, anti semites are a very small part of the US.
Nov. 30, 2008, 9:14 a.m. CST
Nov. 30, 2008, 9:45 a.m. CST
Great great movie, Kazan at his best.
Nov. 30, 2008, 10:03 a.m. CST
Another great McQueen performance to look forward to there Quint. And Cab Calloway is good in it too! (But I'm a big Cab fan anyway...)
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:32 a.m. CST
by Mockingbird Girl
Yes, you've led a pretty sheltered life... and 2008 ain't 1948. It's worth remembering that Mississippi Representative John Rankin -- who is, of course, mentioned in GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT -- called columnist Walter Winchell "the little kike" on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nov. 30, 2008, 12:11 p.m. CST
...it also depends on where you grew up how you'll experience prejudice. I grew up in Kentucky, and only really experienced it three times. The first was over 25 years ago when a fellow Boy Scout called me "Jew Boy" at Troupe Leader Training no less. A second time at my brother's wedding 20 years ago when a guest of someone from the bride's family was sporting a swastika tattoo. He didn't say or do anything, but his presence was enough A(we had several elderly relatives from the East Coast there, and wanted him gone before they saw him). My brothers and I wanted to hurt him, but he was asked to leave by the bride's side of the family. The third time was also about 20 years ago when I went to school in Chicago and a guy a few doors down from me in my dorm was prejudiced against a lot of people. But one day in the cafeteria I made a joke and his response was "That's a typical Jew thing to say." That's pretty much the last time I can recall any personal prejudice. Didn't feel any in Minneapolis, and I don't feel any here in L.A. But prejudice is everywhere.
Nov. 30, 2008, 12:42 p.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
The glutton for punishment says we'll get two reviews, and that's what we get.
Nov. 30, 2008, 1:16 p.m. CST
I don’t know, there was something about this film that always struck me as “weak” and maybe a little too safe, as if they were afraid to offend the sensibilities of the majority of the audience. It is like the “Guess Who is Coming to Dinner” for the Jewish set, or even worse the “Soul Man” of that era. Whenever I hear someone talking about this film, I think of Abraham Polonsky’s quote about the moral of the film being “Always be good to a Jew because he might really be a gentile in disguise. “ But I am glad you mentioned “Crossfire” which I think is much superior movie in dealing with ant-Semitism. It is funny to me that some of the best movies dealing with racism, ant-Semitism, inequality, poverty, and other social issues were the genre flicks, especially the film noirs and the westerns. I mean, it is hard to find better movies exploring themes such as racism than “Odds Against Tomorrow”, “The Well,” or “Sgt. Rutledge”, or about mob justice than “Try and Get Me” or “The Ox-Bow Incident.”
Nov. 30, 2008, 1:17 p.m. CST
While "Pocketful of Miracles" is ok, I wish you had the original "Lady for a Day" instead. Vastly superior version in my opinion.
Nov. 30, 2008, 1:55 p.m. CST
is that it has, I think, a more sophisticated view of prejudice than even many movies today ("Crash" has a tenth of the impact and realism). The film is not about Anti-Semitism so much as the social psychology of prejudice, so it still has a lot or relevance to say today, even in situations with other kinds of populations (races, sexual orientations, religions, philosophies, etc). Nice review, Quint.
Nov. 30, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST
"I can imagine making this movie these days" Thousands of great, subtle, complex, intricate and ambiguous dramas are being produced today-- they'll be available for free. "Gentlemen's Agreement" was a movie, sold in theatres-- entirely because in 1947 there WEREN'T thousands of great, subtle, complex, intricate and ambiguous dramas produced every year and available for free. You can never see a movie of this nature made today. Why would anyone pay 9 dollars (or 1 at a cheap theatre) for it.
Nov. 30, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST
I agree with Quint on this one. The first time I saw this movie it knocked me on my ass. I was living in Japan at the time and, while the Japanese were wonderful people on an individual basis, I ran into the "gentleman's agreement" on a cultural level almost every day. I'm sure there are many immigrants living here in the good old US of A who run into something akin to it today.
Nov. 30, 2008, 3:42 p.m. CST
I personally like the scene when Peck tries to get the manager of a hotel to admit that they won't let him in because they think he's Jewish. It's after he gets pissed and wants the jerk to admit it. But the guy won't literally say so, he just asks him to leave. And Peck realizes that even confronting the guy directly didn't really solve anything. Also a nice scene is when his girlfriend is telling their Jewish friend how disgusted she was by a dinner party guest's racist jokes, but he then asks, "What did you do about it?" And she of course was just silently disgusted. It may seem a little "weak" to some people, but the point of the film wasn't to protest in the streets. (And the 40s wasn't exactly a time where many people did that.) It was that thinking "that's terrible, but that's the way it is" just made things worse.
Nov. 30, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST
At least that is the claim.
Nov. 30, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST
if you do it in a bubble, neglecting history and current events...then ya, you probably are a jew hater...even the most stalwart supporter of israel has criticism of certain policies...however, usually the critics of israel forget the wars of 48, 56, 67 and 72...they have amnesia when it comes to suicide bombers walking into discos crowded with teenaged kids...they think nothing of gazans shooting rockets into israel proper on a daily basis...
Nov. 30, 2008, 6:09 p.m. CST
But I really enjoyed Celeste Holm. She's great in just about everything she's in. A trivia point about John Garfield is that he actually was Jewish; his given name was Jacob Garfinkle. And one of the films Dean Stockwell was known for as a young actor was The Boy With Green Hair. Saw it a really long time ago but I recall him being quite good in it.
Nov. 30, 2008, 6:59 p.m. CST
this is the heart of the site right now, I just opened my Warner gangsters Vol 1 and began watching Public Enemy, be sure to watch the Leonard Maltin and the Night at the movies feature with the Movie reels and Shorts when you find your set. I paid 25 dollars at SAMS a few months ago, and your plan to watch it made me watch it, along with Tin Star and several others. I will begin a Gregory Peck blitz shortly.
Nov. 30, 2008, 7:21 p.m. CST
"Upper Class" down the "Lower Class." I've encountered it, especially before someone knew I was Jewish; actually when some found out I was secular and not religious, it actually seemed to make me worse; that's the view of the Palin-type crowd all over this country. Well done on this write-up. An enduring film indeed.
Nov. 30, 2008, 8:39 p.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
I'm just going off of his words in "Kazan on Kazan," where he complains about the film being far too on-the-nose.
Nov. 30, 2008, 8:42 p.m. CST
Nothing in the Burroughs literature to reaffirm this ethnic match. But a Jewish pal noted, "Tarzan's tag line is 'Ju-Ju', it's repeated in all of the old movies. He was a vine-swinging Jew, plain and simple. Pretty strange considering he obviously didn't hang around the garment district." Oy!
Nov. 30, 2008, 8:44 p.m. CST
Jesse Jackson; this p.r. parasite and Hitler would have enjoyed some fireside chats.
Nov. 30, 2008, 9:08 p.m. CST
While I am far from a fan of Jesse Jackson and love the fact Obama has made him irrelevant, I think it is absurd to compare him to Hitler. I mean, he might have said some tasteless things but to compare him to the man responsible for the death of millions of Jews is just asinine. I know you weren't sincere in your comparison, but I just can't stand any sort of Hitler comparisons. Wait until someone kills at least a couple million before you do that.
Nov. 30, 2008, 9:13 p.m. CST
It's whining because you are being excluded from Country Clubs, from Power. People should be proud to be excluded from Power. Power should be torn down, and everyone should be equal, which means, no Country Clubs to be excluded from. I don't like whiny movies about how one special group is sadly excluded from perks that NO ONE should have. "But we are such a special group! We SHOULD have power!" Get over it, and work for the common good, not your own unfair shair of the pie.
Nov. 30, 2008, 9:31 p.m. CST
Hell, when Jewish people were excluded from an L.A. country club, they established their own -- for everyone on the other side of the street - really. It's not about that. It's not about obvious racism, hate, etc. It's about the subtle, in some ways more sinister actions.
Nov. 30, 2008, 10:24 p.m. CST
It was not only country clubs. It was R&D, schools, and universities. The ability to fully live the American dream. Doesnt seem whiny to me.
Nov. 30, 2008, 10:28 p.m. CST
So what is the "greater good" we should all be working for? Supporting your fat, lazy ass? In what society (human, animal, insect, etc.) is everybody equal?
Nov. 30, 2008, 11:14 p.m. CST
You wrote a far more eloquent epitaph for Jesse Jackson than yours truly ("While I am far from a fan of Jesse Jackson and love the fact Obama has made him irrelevant..."). I bow to your convictions and thank you.
Dec. 1, 2008, 12:24 a.m. CST
While I agree with you that humans by their very nature look to place themselves on a pecking order and a social rank (read the "Lucifer Principle" for those who disagree). I don't think NoDiggity was advocating some sort of communist utopia. I mean our constitution says, "all men are created equal", and even though we know that is inherently untrue, our society puts emphasis that all of us have equal access and opportunity to wealth and political control over our lives. We are supposedly a meritocracy and not an aristocracy or plutocracy; I see nothing wrong with wanting the destruction of institutions that excludes people from decision-making processes and prevent over groups from having an equal opportunity in making it in our society, even if the chances of that happening are very unlikely. <p> Oh, and the Great Whatzit, thanks for the compliment.
Dec. 8, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST
I gotta hand it you, Quint, how you've committed to grinding this out every day (or very close to it)... and yet even on the days when you acknowledge it's not as full a column as it could be (because of the gazillion other things you're doing) your honesty about what's going on, combined with a very sincere effort at writing something about your feelings about whatever movie you're reviewing is really well done. Ultimately though, the main thing I love about what you're doing is the scope. I became a fan of the Ain't It Cool News, because I enjoyed reading and being part of a community that mirrored the rt community of friends who love film (cult and mainstream, modern and classic) that were a part of my life in LA, SF and Houston. The site still has a lot of that, but the most consistent part of Ain't It Cool News' "covering almost any type of film that could be possibly be considered 'cool'" is this column now. This review just reminded me of that, in how you take on each film you review on it's own merits, give it a sincere amount of thought, then throw in whatever other films/experiences/references the film brings up for you. Sorry if this sounds too fawning, but this is something I had been thinking about for awhile and thought you might be interested to hear (another) complement. Keep it up if you can, because it is really appreciated.