Ulmer's soulful, open-air adaptation of Peretz Hirshbein's classic play heralded the Golden Age of Yiddish cinema. When an ascetic young scholar ventures into the countryside, searching for... See full summary »
Ulmer's soulful, open-air adaptation of Peretz Hirshbein's classic play heralded the Golden Age of Yiddish cinema. When an ascetic young scholar ventures into the countryside, searching for the city of "true Jews," he learns some unexpected lessons from the Jewish peasants who take him in as a tutor for their children. Written by
National Center for Jewish Film
The film was shot in five days after six weeks of rehearsal. Director Edgar G. Ulmer said in an interview that the producers raised the money ($8,000) for the film by hocking furniture. When the film laboratory threatened to foreclose on the film because they hadn't been paid, the head of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union, David Dubinsky, purchased 75,000 tickets in advance, after he saw and liked a rough cut of the film. See more »
While I saw this film 35 years ago when I was 13, and couldn't understand the parts where Yiddish was spoken without subtitles, I remember it being very enjoyable. It is a comedy and everyone has foibles, including the student, who often is self-important and pompous. I remember him explaining his sensitivity by saying, "I have a Jewish heart." Like everyone else doesn't?
One thing I picked up years later when this was the subject of a TV documentary, was a scene where the young son of the family, played by a very young Hershel Bernardi, invites the student to cross a river, symbolic that by simplifying his life he is, in a sense, crossing the River Jordan.
Not a bad idea, today, either.
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