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Young Morris Goldfish follows his immigrant father into business. His ruthless business practices cause him to become a big success, and he moves the family to Park Avenue. They go, but were happier back on the East Side. Morris is ashamed of this parents and his humble origins, but learns in the end that there is more to life than money. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This movie is based on a Fannie Hurst play, "It Is to Laugh," which opened at the Eltinge 42nd Street Theatre in New York City on 26 December 1926 and closed after 32 performances in January 1927. See more »
When Birdie tells Eddie( via intertitle) that his song has been sold for a thousand dollars, he excitedly mouths the words, "Five thousand?" See more »
A Midas for the Jazz Age with a touch of the Jazz Singer
This film is one of the rare surviving goat gland films, that is, it's a part talkie. The film was made in 1929, and although more financially or technically advanced studios had graduated to all-talking pictures by now, poverty row Columbia was just beginning to work with the new technology. As a result, the film is split rather oddly into silent and talking portions, and it goes back and forth between talking and silent throughout the picture. However, it is very well done in spite of this. They must have had some trouble with synchronization, because often the speaking portions will have the speaker turn his/her back to the camera so you can't see that the sound is out of sync. Also, there is a song performed at a distance in which you can clearly see that the singer's lips and the song are out of sync.
Enough about the poverty row qualifications. The film itself is an excellent Frank Capra work about a Jewish family in a poorer section of New York City. Don't expect the optimistic Capra of later years here, though. The film is surprisingly downbeat although the Capra themes of the importance of family and the evils of chasing riches for riches sake shine through.
The film opens with Julius Goldfish (Jean Hersholt) selling from his push-cart. Actually, he's loafing and talking with friends and ignoring the push-cart. His wife Tilda (Rosa Rosanova) scolds him about his loafing and says he'll never get ahead. Meanwhile their children do not get along with each other. Morris, their son, is always looking for ways to make money, even salvaging stuff from a burning building in order to have a fire sale. Birdie Goldfish (as an adult, Lina Basquette) and Eddie Lesser (as an adult, Rex Lease) are childhood sweethearts. Ma Goldfish is always building up Morris' industry and ingenuity, and Birdie is Pa Goldfish's pride and joy, although Ma and Pa love both children.
Time passes, and the adult Morris (Ricardo Cortez) builds up the push-cart into a thriving antique business and moves the entire family to Fifth Avenue, not so much because he wants his family with him, but because you feel he would be embarrassed to have it known that his family is living on the East Side. Morris even changes his name to Fish to leave his Jewish roots behind and be accepted in the gentile social circles of upper crust New York City. To this end he tries to control the lives of his parents and his grown sister, even shooting disapproving looks at his dad whenever he wears his prayer shawl. Eventually Morris turns his parents into museum pieces and pushes his sister out of the family when her marriage to Eddie embarrasses him socially. The end is bitter-sweet with a final scene that is hard to forget.
Highly recommended as a touching dawn of sound film and a showcase of Capra's talents during this technologically challenging era when so many others were making either stiffly acted static dramas or ludicrous musicals in this transitional year of all-talking pictures.
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