Director Green returned to his native Poland from America to produce this film, the most commercially successful musical in the history of the Yiddish cinema, starring Molly Picon, consummate comedienne of Yiddish theater, vaudeville, and film. This is the classic folk comedy about a man and his daughter who, penniless, decide to become traveling musicians. The daughter disguises herself as a boy to relieve her father's anxiety about unforeseeable problems that could befall a young woman "out in the world." They then join together with "another" father-son duo for music, comedy and romance. Green's original screenplay was enhanced by the folksy lyrics of Yiddish poet Itzik Manger and the memorable musical score of Abraham Ellstein, as well as the talents of Leon Leibold, the romantic lead who later starred in The Dybbuk and Tevye, and Max Bozyk, a character actor par excellence. Breaking away from the studio-bound cinematography of the early Yiddish talkies, the film was shot on ... Written by
A young girl and her father are on their uppers in pre WWII Eastern Europe.
She plays the fiddle and he the double bass so they set off on their travels as wandering klezmorim (musicians). He's worried that she will attract the wrong kind of attention, so she dresses as a boy. (It wouldn't fool anyone, but suspend that disbelief.) They catch a lift from a passing haycart and sing and play their theme tune, Yidl mitn Fidl. "Life is a song!" (fortunately lidl rhymes with fidl), "Life is a joke!". They fall in with two other musicians: Froym, on violin, and Isaac, on clarinet. The band is a hit. Yidl falls in love with the goodlooking Froym and is particularly sent by his fiddle-playing (I know how she feels). She pours out her heart in a plaintive song (all music written by Abe Ellstein). They get booked to play at a wedding. Yidl finds out the bride doesn't want to marry her elderly fiance, so they kidnap her. "Life is a joke!" they tell her, and her voice adds something to their "philharmonie". In fact she's talent spotted in Warsaw and given a gig at a theatre, but at that moment her old love Yossl turns up and she runs off with him. I won't spoil the ending. It ends happily, but ... See it.
Yes, it's creaky and naive, and Yidl's impersonation of a boy can get a bit trying at times. The music, even through a scratchy soundtrack, is heart-stopping. In Yiddish with English subtitles. xxxxx
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