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Hester Street (1975)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 778 users  
Reviews: 20 user | 9 critic

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ... See full summary »

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Title: Hester Street (1975)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Keats ...
Jake
...
Gitl
Mel Howard ...
Bernstein
Dorrie Kavanaugh ...
Mamie
...
Mrs. Kavarsky
Stephen Strimpell ...
Joe Peltner
Lauren Frost ...
Fanny
Paul Freedman ...
Joey
Martin Garner ...
Boss
Leib Lensky ...
Peddler
Zane Lasky ...
Greenhorn
Zvee Scooler ...
Rabbi
Eda Reiss Merin ...
Rabbi's Wife
Robert Lesser ...
Lawyer
...
Jake's Landlady
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Storyline

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He has assimilated to American life, having learned English, anglicized his name to Jake, and shaved off his beard. He is working at a $12/week job as a seamster, the money earned to be able to bring his wife Gitl and his son Yossele to America from Russia. Regardless, he has fallen in love with another woman, a dancer named Mamie Fein. Nonetheless, he is excited when he learns that Gitl and Yossele are indeed coming to America. His happiness at their arrival is dampened when he sees that Gitl is not "American" looking like Mamie and has troubles assimilating as quickly as he would like. Except to Mamie, he tries to show a public façade that everything is fine at home with Gitl. But can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 August 1976 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Hester utca  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture had trouble getting distributed. The movie was consider too specialist, mainly of interest to a niche market of only audiences of a Jewish ethnicity, and without any mass or general appeal. In the end, the filmmakers decided to distribute the movie themselves. See more »

Goofs

Early scene at table with Gitl, her husband, son and boarder, one can see the mic in the upper right-hand corner. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Once Upon a Time On Hester Street
3 June 2007 | by (Virginia, USA) – See all my reviews

Joan Micklin Silver's directorial debut is a lovely, funny, warm, and observant historical drama-comedy about Jewish immigrants who left the little shtetl in Russia in the end of the 19th century for the hopes of better life and success in America. The film tells the story of a young couple, Jake (Steven Keats) and Gitl (Carol Kane). The husband came to Lower East End of Manhattan five years before his family and has gladly accepted American way of life making transition from Yankel to a Yankee, losing his beard and side curls on a way to become a real American and falling in love with Mamie Fine, attractive and independent young woman, an immigrant herself. When his wife Gitl and their son Yossi (Joey) arrive from Russia and join him in the flat at Hester Street, Jake is torn between his desire "to live like educated people in an educated country" and his wife's quiet but firm holding on to the traditions of Old Country. More likely, their marriage was arranged by their families in Russia and they don't have much in common when they meet after having lived separately in two different worlds for five years. The film concentrates on Gitl, quiet, gentle, pious seemingly fragile and naive young woman with huge dark eyes who has to make very serious decisions about her new life and how to make sense of it.

Everything about this small independent movie is fine - its authentic look that was achieved by beautiful B/W cinematography, its soundtrack that uses the music by Herbert L. Clarke, a composer and famous cornet player; the dialogs in two languages, English and Yiddish, full of very unique humor that still shines. There are no villains in the story and no stereotypes. All characters have one thing in common - one day, they took a chance to start over, to leave their past behind, to movie to the absolutely new unknown world with the different language, customs, traditions, rhythm of life and to try to survive and succeed and not to lose their unique identity. Comic, moving, warm, lyrical, with the loving attention to the smallest details, with the love and understanding for its characters, "Hester street" is a perfect example of an independent art movie that was made on the shoe string budget, had difficulties to find distributors, but luckily did not get lost, found its way to the viewers, and brought Jewish ethnicity to the screen. One does not have to be an Art movie buff or an immigrant to enjoy "Hester Street". The simple story of a young traditional woman's transformation and coming to terms with her new life can be enjoyed by any viewer regardless their age, gender, or ethnic background.

Carol Cane is fantastic as Gitl and more than deserves her Academy Award nomination for the Best Leading Actress. Doris Roberts (Marie of "Everybody Loves Raymond") is equally good as Gitl's and Jake's neighbor, Mrs. Kavisnky who becomes Gitl's friend and adviser.


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