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J. Farrell MacDonald
Philip Green is a highly respected writer who is recruited by a national magazine to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism in America. He's not too keen on the series, mostly because he's not sure how to tackle the subject. Then it dawns on him: if he was to pretend to all and sundry that he was Jewish, he could then experience the degree of racism and prejudice that exists and write his story from that perspective. It takes little time for him to experience bigotry. His anger at the way he is treated also affects his relationship with Kathy Lacy, his publisher's niece and the person who suggested the series in the first place. Written by
The timeliness of the film is revealed by a telling exchange that took place between screenwriter Moss Hart and a stagehand, as reported in The Saturday Review, December 6, 1947, pg. 71: "You know," a stagehand is reported to have said to Mr. Hart, "I've loved working on this picture of yours. Usually I play gin-rummy with the boys when scenes are being shot. But not this time. This time I couldn't leave the set. The picture has such a wonderful moral I didn't want to miss it." "Really," beamed Mr. Hart, pleased not only as a scenarist but as a reformer. "That's fine. What's the moral as you see it?" "Well, I tell you," replied the stagehand. "Henceforth I'm always going to be good to Jewish people because you never can tell when they will turn out to be Gentiles." See more »
When Phil is taking Tommy to meet his (Phil's) mother at Saks Fifth Avenue, they stop in front of the statue of Atlas outside Rockefeller Center. In the shot of the two of them talking, with Fifth Avenue in the background, Saks is directly behind them, diagonally across the street on the right, with St. Patrick's Cathedral on the left. But when Phil looks at his watch and tells Tommy they'd better leave to meet grandma, the two hurry off back north along Fifth Avenue - in the completely opposite direction of the plainly visible Saks. See more »
I hate to say it, but before I saw this movie, I did not realize that there was racism against Jews in the post war period. I couldn't understand it: why would Americans promote the very thing they fought against in the war? Then I was informed that they weren't fighting against racism or discrimination, but against the Nazi regime and genocide. There is a large difference between one person's opinion and a government policy. I'm a teenager, and the fact that Jews were still discriminated against was never mentioned to me. Maybe it should be better known. I am doing Modern History next year and we will be studying the Second World War, and I'm very glad I saw this film (despite its inaccuracies).
Anyway now to the plot. Phillip Green (Gregory Peck) is a writer who pretends to be Jewish to find out about anti-Semitism. Through this, he learns how much people discriminate against Jews and it affects him deeply and changes his life.
I was never bored in this film. I am forever fascinated by Peck, who I've always remembered as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962). This is only the second film I've seen with Peck in his younger days (it's quite a pleasure watching him). Celeste Holm also is amazing and I love how she can laugh so easily very realistic. The only thing I wasn't satisfied with is the romantic choices by Peck's character. I wish he would have chosen the happy blonde Anne instead of the sappy, boring Kathy. Oh, how I was hoping he would choose Anne! Perhaps Dorothy McGuire was miscast; maybe someone else could have brought more energy to her character. John Garfield is fantastic as Green's Jewish friend.
This was ground breaking at the time and I really respect the people who participated in this film for taking a risk. Despite being made almost 60 years ago, I have not only learned from it but enjoyed it. Yes, there are some inaccuracies and plot holes, but I don't particularly care and it doesn't distract me. It's a great film, go see it.
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