Nat Silver has been engaged 7 times already. This time, his 8th, he's really going to get married. But a visitor shows up, Shirley's old boyfriend. With a gun ! He'll kill himself unless he... See full summary »
Nat Silver has been engaged 7 times already. This time, his 8th, he's really going to get married. But a visitor shows up, Shirley's old boyfriend. With a gun ! He'll kill himself unless he can have Shirley back, and Nat graciously gives in. According to Nat's mother, his Uncle Shya was unlucky at love but lucky as a matchmaker, and Nat is just like Shya. Nat tells his family he's going to Italy. But he remains in New York and sets himself up with a new name and new business, Nat Gold, Advisor in Human Relations... Written by
C n y u tel w at I m s in g? (or The Story of the Faulty Subtitles)
A film can be easily ruined if subtitles are not used properly two films lately have fallen prey to this pathetic error. The exuberantly long "Allonsanfan" used subtitles that were all over the screen, most of the time not within reading level and enforced the classic "dialogue, dialogue, dialogue" in a different language with a subtitle merely saying, "Yes.". Horrible, and ruined the film experience altogether. As if the Gods were still laughing at me after that debacle, the film "American Matchmaker" came through the pipeline and it seemed that whoever was employed by "Allonsanfan" to do the titles was also employed by "American Matchmaker". With the poor use of subtitles, "American Matchmaker" transformed from a classic in Yiddish cinema, to just cheap comedy that missed the beats because of poor craftsmanship. While the story was interesting, and at times joyful, it was because I couldn't read the message that "American Matchmaker" falls from my shelves, not one that could be watched over and over again.
With those of you who are familiar with Edgar G. Ulmer's noir classic "Detour" probably felt like myself when I heard that he did a Yiddish comedy. Moving in a different cinematic direction, Ulmer attempts to bring a new, nearly unheard, language to the screen. He uses a simple story, with odd characters that do not quite make it through the major parts of the film, coupled with songs that are a bit catchy (yet more mundane), Ulmer completely misses the mark, giving us a quick ending to a short-changed film. Our troubles begin with the story of our characters, an ultimate bachelor wants to get married, but cannot find the right girl. With troubles rising, he decides to escape his family and create a matchmaking business for himself. If he can't get married, than why can't he help others? A question that I am not sure has an answer for those outside of our television screens, but for those inside it makes perfect sense. He isn't that great with this new job, matching comedy with drama unsuccessfully, he finally finds one that will stick but it doesn't go without a quick climax which ultimately ends the film. It was short, to the point, and anything but sweet. "American Matchmaker" suffers from a script that felt like it was rushed to finish. The beginning is sharp, the entourage of Leo Fuchs friends enjoying laughs about his life, but we hit a song and it only slightly resembles anything we were discussing earlier. Than, we seem to be rushed into a conflict which accompanies absurdity and a business choice that comes from left field. The writers were attempting to connect A to B to C, but didn't have the right parts between to keep them glued together. By the time Fuchs has his moment of revelation, I lost interest in his character. He was jumping too far, Ulmer was allowing him to do whatever he wanted, and it never quite matched the character I knew from the prior scene. It was jumbled, and when there was an obvious missing step, Ulmer inserted a song and poor subtitles to throw us off. Don't worry I still saw your downfalls Mr. Ulmer.
With the story somewhat in shambles (it was there only missing key segways) it was up to our characters to bring whatever was left back to life but again, with a story already built like swiss cheese these guys didn't have much to follow. There was little to no chemistry between Fuchs and those involved. Perhaps it was my lack of Yiddish anything, but there should have been further explanation as to what Fuchs' job involved. I know it was matching people, but how are they found, what is the paperwork, and most importantly, how were the dates? Was it like "Blind Date" or was it more for convenience? Since we had such a lengthy opening, with songs galore, there wasn't enough time to develop the story behind the business or what eventually happens at the end, so instead of watching things evolve, we simply see an ends to mean. We get there, the work is done, we close off our minds and let whatever happen, happen. It seemed disgraceful for such a valued film. With that said, the actors had nothing to work with. Fuchs was entertaining to watch, but he had no true definition of his character. Nobody did, which only helped this film slowly implode from the inside out.
What may make this film enjoyable to some to view may be the music. Once thought to be the Fred Astair of the Yiddish theater, Fuchs doesn't just try to emulate Astair, but in fact he nearly tries to copy him using all of his on-screen mannerisms. At first it seems genuine, he singing about events (sometimes unknown to the viewer due to the horrid subtitle issue), but then it gets to where he sings for no apparent reason than just to fill time. Again, with the faulty subtitles, I am never quite certain his purpose for the tune. While the music itself may make you tap your toe in your chair, its rhyme or reason is unknown. This isn't classified as a musical, but a comedy yet these songs were not funny.
Overall, with all of my complaining, this was a decent film. I had quite a bit of trouble working my way through this film due to the subtitles, the intermitted songs, and the unmotivated characters, but I have to give it credit because it was my very first Yiddish film. I will always remember it. Ulmer tried with this film, and perhaps if there were more technical advances before this film was created, it may have lasted longer through the cinematic timeline, but alas, it is a forgotten film.
Grade: ** out of *****
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