One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Before he became a movie star, Edward G Robinson was a New York stage actor who had difficulty getting roles, so he teamed up with newspaperman Jo Swerling to write a play as a stage vehicle for himself. 'The Kibitzer', starring Robinson, was a modest Broadway hit. When Paramount bought the film rights, they didn't consider Edward G Robinson sufficiently well-known to star in the movie version of his own play ... so they cast Harry Green in the lead role.
For modern audiences, Harry Green is an embarrassment. In exactly the same way that Stepin Fetchit and Wllie Best played stereotypical Negro roles, Harry Green played a stereotypical Jewish character: a pushy, money-grubbing busybody. Just occasionally, Green's on-screen characters were sympathetic, as in 'This Day and Age', but they always embodied the worst stereotypes of Jewish behaviour and speech patterns.
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. 'The Kibitzer' stars Harry Green as Ike Lazarus, the owner of a Manhattan cigar store which is also the local hangout for people with nothing better to do. Ike considers himself an expert on the stock market, card playing, horse racing, the lot. He seldom risks any money on these things, because his expertise is all hot air. Ike's daughter Josie is romantically involved with Bert Livingston, son of wealthy stockbroker James Livingston. When Ike learns that his daughter and Bert are planning to elope, he decides to warn Livingston.
Ike strolls into Livingston's brokerage house without an appointment, and promptly walks into an armed robbery. Bert (who isn't actually Livingston's son, but no matter) has embezzled funds, and is now holding Livingston at gunpoint. More by dumb luck than anything else, Ike knocks the gun out of Bert's hand. As a reward for saving his life, Livingston offers to let Ike in on a hot new stock issue, American Steel ... sure to make a big profit.
Ike is too much of a blowhard to admit that he hasn't the money to go halves with Livingston. Instead, he sells pieces of his half of the deal to all the working stiffs in his neighbourhood, promising them big profits. Ike rapidly becomes the local hero ... until American Steel opens its trading, and the shares start dropping rapidly. The ending is unexpected but believable, and quite funny. All ends happily as Josie marries that nice goyisher Eddie Brown.
There are some good laughs in 'The Kibitzer', but many of them are compromised by the extremely annoying personality of Harry Green. Edward G Robinson eventually proved his ability with comedy, and it would have been nice to see him in the role that he tailored for himself. I'll rate 'The Kibitzer' 7 out of 10.
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