Movie Millisecond: Just wish I were dead

Gentleman’s Agreement (Elia Kazan*, 1947).

You know. The usual.

Actually, this movie is really excellent and special. It shed light on the prevalent anti-Semitism which proceded the second World War. Everyone is always so busy patting themselves on the back for liberating the concentration camps* during the Allied victory over Hitler & Co. that we tend to forget the Jewish people were still being discriminated against in the countries of their liberators.


via.

Based on a book by Laura Z. Hobson, the film is about a writer who claims to be Jewish in order to write an authentic series on anti-Semitism in America. He quickly learns firsthand how prevalent bigotry against Jewish citizens remained in the post-War years. It was considered a risky film to make, and the anecdotal Hollywood folktale circuit would have it that Jewish heads of other production companies went to producer Darryl Zanuck and asked him not to make the film. I’m not so sure: I think that sounds like marveolous publicity fodder and is more likely a fiction generated by Zanuck to drum up interest in the picture than anything that actually happened — especially since a scene mirroring that situation is included in the film. Inspiration for PR story much? In any case, the buzz paid off: the film was Fox’s top-grossing movie of 1948.



*Kazan himself is of course controversial.
**no question, the liberation of the camps was fantastic and thank God for it, no matter if it was late in the game or for political rather than humanitarian reasons, but I’m just sayin’.

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One Response to “Movie Millisecond: Just wish I were dead”

  1. Michael Mills Says:

    Nice article, whether or not the quote about D. F. Zanuk was fact or fiction, he the lone non-Jewish studio head did produce the picture.

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