Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two 1947 Antisemitism Films

Crossfire (1947) - (Robert Young)

Gentleman's Agreement (1947) - (Gregory Peck)

Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire was an adaption from a novel by Richard Brooks which was originally about the murder of a soldier by fellow soldiers because he was gay. The gay issue was not acceptable to the film industry in that year, so in the screeenplay the murdered solder was made to be a Jew instead. The social machinations of antisemitism are not carefully explored for various reasons, but primarily because this was mostly a low-budget murder mystery.

Elia Kazan's Gentleman's Agreement got the Academy Award for best picture that year. It was deliberately written in the original novel by Laura Z. Hobson as a story about antisemitism in which Gregory Peck as a journalist takes on the assignment of writing about the subject and tells his story with insights he gained by posing as a Jew himself. Many facets of the insidious phenomenon of antisemitism in American society are illustrated in this film. The "gentleman's agreement" was apparently some kind of tacit understanding that Jews would be kept out of certain areas of American life. Dean Stockwell does a great job here at age eleven as Tommy Green, the son of Peck's character Philip Schuyler Green.

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