Interesting Period Piece On US Holocaust Awareness
I was curious to see this final episode of the Playhouse 90 TV series,which aired in 1960 and is part of a turning point in American awareness, dormant after WWII and through most of the 1950's, about the horrors of the Holocaust. (It is a truism that during these early Cold War years U.S. policy turned to strengthening West Germany as an economic and military bastion against Communism, instead of bringing up what happened under the Nazis.) Other milestones in this awareness would include the translation of The Diary Of Anne Frank, its adaptation into a play and then a movie in the 50's; the 1961 U.S. release of the European documentary film Mein Kampf; and of course the coverage of the Eichmann trial in 1961. So how does earnest, occasionally heavy handed Rod Serling's teleplay hold up? It's a moving story of a Warsaw Ghetto rabbi, played stalwartly by Charles Laughton, who tries to steer a path of peace, against his rebellious son (Arthur Kennedy) The most effective scene involves the daughter (Susan Kohner) who has been raped by a Nazi officer (George MacReady) but who a younger, more sensitive Nazi soldier (a very Aryan looking Robert Redford!) sympathizes with and tries to help. Others in the fine cast include Sam Jaffe as a Jew who keeps coming up with different ideas for a hiding place,and Oscar Homolka as a Polish gentile who tries to atone for his nation's history of anti-Semitism. The direction of Serling's play is by the capable Fielder Cook. Unfortunately one of the commercial sponsors of this show was a gas company!
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