Director Green returned to his native Poland from America to produce this film, the most commercially successful musical in the history of the Yiddish cinema, starring Molly Picon, consummate comedienne of Yiddish theater, vaudeville, and film. This is the classic folk comedy about a man and his daughter who, penniless, decide to become traveling musicians. The daughter disguises herself as a boy to relieve her father's anxiety about unforeseeable problems that could befall a young woman "out in the world." They then join together with "another" father-son duo for music, comedy and romance. Green's original screenplay was enhanced by the folksy lyrics of Yiddish poet Itzik Manger and the memorable musical score of Abraham Ellstein, as well as the talents of Leon Leibold, the romantic lead who later starred in The Dybbuk and Tevye, and Max Bozyk, a character actor par excellence. Breaking away from the studio-bound cinematography of the early Yiddish talkies, the film was shot on ...Written by
Fascinating film. A sly comedy with terrific music has Molly Picon posing as a boy (for safety) and traveling the countryside with her father after they have been dispossessed. As musicians, they meet up with a pair of wanderers and the four strike up some merry music and get involved in various situations, including a wedding and a theater.
Picon is no more convincing as a boy than were Marion Davies or Barbra Streisand in various films, but you suspend your disbelief and go with the flow. Picon is a major comic talent and also had a nice singing voice. Also good in the cast as Simche Fostel as her father, Max Bozyk as Izak, and Leon Liebgold as Froim. Dora Fakiel is funny as the widow Trauba.
Joseph Green wrote, produced, and directed this film, shooting in Poland in 1935/36. The film has almost a documentary feel at times, capturing the look and sounds of rural Poland before the German invasion in 1939. It's a world long gone. Green filmed three more movies up through 1938 and escaped Poland with his films and returned to America.
YIDDLE WITH HIS FIDDLE was certainly a low-budget affair, but it was a worldwide hit in its day, especially in New York City where its box office clout rivaled that of any Hollywood film of the day.
Highlights of the film are the wedding party scene and Picon's musical turn on a theater stage after she has ditched the boy's disguise. The film is available from several sources and has English subs.
In a final and sad note, Green never made another film after 1938. He said he gave up filmmaking because his audience was gone. He was referring to the Holocaust and the extermination of 6 million Jews.
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