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 »
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Moishe Oysher gives his most robust performance as a passionate shtetl blacksmith who must struggle against temptation to become a mensch. Ulmer's film is a musical version of David Pinski's classic 1906 play Yankl der Schmid.
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Edgar G. Ulmer
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 »
I guess this is a film that only aficionados can appreciate. I like many old films, even the pre-talkies, but this one is not for the basic watcher. I caught it on TCM, so it was without interruptions or editing. It didn't help. The humor falls flat, and the story was pedantic. There was nothing wrong with it, really, but it just wasn't entertaining.
Sample lines: "Your father has flies in his nose," and "A Jew should not be as strong as a Goy?" That just doesn't translate well, even with subtitles. And there's laughing, although nothing seems very funny. To say it's "preachy" is an understatement. The dogma is a bit overwhelming. And as far as the subtitles go, I wish they had picked a single font size and stuck with it.
I'm not an historian, or a Jew. I'm just a film buff. I found little here to be excited about on that basis. But I don't want to leave it at that, without a good word to say- The film stock was excellent!
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