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The House I Live In (1945)

Approved | | Short, Drama, Music | 9 November 1945 (USA)
Frank Sinatra teaches a group of young boys a lesson in religious tolerance.

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(uncredited)

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

A young Frank Sinatra is in the studio with a full orchestra. He records a take of "If You Are But a Dream," then breaks for a smoke. From the studio, he steps into an alley where he sees nearly a dozen kids chasing one smaller boy. Frank stops them, asks why, and they tell him it's because of the boy's religion. So Frank asks them if they're Nazis and explains a few things about America, blood banks, World War II, and teamwork. Then he sings "The House I Live In" for them. Off the lads scamper, and the kid Frank's saved gives him a look of gratitude. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Short | Drama | Music

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

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Release Date:

9 November 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Éste es mi hogar  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The lyrics to the song "The House I Live In" were written by Abel Meeropol, author of "Strange Fruit" made famous by Billie Holiday. He is credited as Lewis Allan because of the black list. When he saw the film for the first time he walked out because the line in his lyric "my neighbors white and black" was not included in the film. See more »


Soundtracks

If You Are But a Dream
(uncredited)
Written by Moe Jaffe, Jack Fulton, and Nat Bonx
Performed by Frank Sinatra
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User Reviews

 
"That's America to me"
27 August 2008 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

It's sometimes difficult to watch such self-avowed "message films" from an earlier, seemingly-simpler era without a certain degree of cynicism. The issue of racism and religious tolerance is one that has been drummed into us from an early age, and, as we've grown, teachers and authority figures have sought out less blatant yet equally-effective means of getting the message across. 'The House I Live In (1945)' is about as unsubtle as "message films" come, and Frank Sinatra seems to be treating his audience like a child – indeed, perhaps this was the point, as the short was no doubt intended primarily to influence younger film-goers. Even so, I found myself curiously affected when Sinatra launched into that sincere patriotic speech about what it really means to be an American… and I'm not even an American! Released just two months after the end of WWII, director Mervyn LeRoy greeted war-weary audiences with a message of tolerance, togetherness and, above all else, hope. The music ain't bad, either.

Fresh-faced Frank Sinatra – already a star, but not yet the superstar he'd become – opens the film in a recording studio, booming out "If You Are But a Dream" with a full orchestral accompaniment. When, between songs, Frank goes outside for a smoko, he observes a large group of kids bullying a young Jewish boy, their taunts provoked purely by his differing religion. Ol' Blue Eyes quickly puts a stop to this childish behaviour, delicately branding the bullies "Nazi werewolves" and scolding their irrational prejudice. He then earnestly and good-naturely lectures the group on the plain silliness of racial and religious discrimination, assuring them that every American culture, however it differs from our own, is still American at heart… unless, of course, you're one of those bloody "Japs." There's a hint of hypocrisy in pleading for racial tolerance while presenting one nation as the collective enemy, though you could hardly blame Hollywood for being less than enthusiastic about the plight of the Japanese in 1945.

Sinatra drives his point home with a wonderfully heartwarming rendition of "The House I Live In," which was written in 1943 by Abel Meeropol. When the songwriter first heard the song on film, he was furious that the filmmakers had completely excluded three of his verses, which he considered crucial to the message. These omissions were most likely due to time restraints, but Meeropol understandably didn't take too kindly to them, and reportedly had to be ejected from the cinema. When it was first released, 'The House I Live In' was deemed such an important short film that it won a Golden Globe for "Best Film for Promoting International Good Will" and a Honorary Oscar for all involved. In 2007, it was judged to be "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, which is how I came to hear of it. While its approach may seem a little hokey sixty years later, this film remains quite watchable thanks to a young fella named Frank Sinatra.


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