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Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

Not Rated | | Drama , Romance | March 1948 (USA)
A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred.

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writers:

Laura Z. Hobson (novel), Moss Hart (screen play)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gregory Peck ... Philip Schuyler Green
Dorothy McGuire ... Kathy Lacy
John Garfield ... Dave Goldman
Celeste Holm ... Anne Dettrey
Anne Revere ... Mrs. Green
June Havoc ... Elaine Wales
Albert Dekker ... John Minify
Jane Wyatt ... Jane
Dean Stockwell ... Tommy Green
Nicholas Joy ... Dr. Craigie
Sam Jaffe ... Professor Fred Lieberman
Harold Vermilyea ... Lou Jordan
Ransom M. Sherman Ransom M. Sherman ... Bill Payson
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Storyline

Philip Green is a highly respected writer who is recruited by a national magazine to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism in America. He's not too keen on the series, mostly because he's not sure how to tackle the subject. Then it dawns on him: if he was to pretend to all and sundry that he was Jewish, he could then experience the degree of racism and prejudice that exists and write his story from that perspective. It takes little time for him to experience bigotry. His anger at the way he is treated also affects his relationship with Kathy Lacy, his publisher's niece and the person who suggested the series in the first place. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Laura Z. Hobson's Gentleman's Agreement See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The timeliness of the film is revealed by a telling exchange that took place between screenwriter Moss Hart and a stagehand, as reported in "The Saturday Review", December 6, 1947, pg. 71: "You know," a stagehand is reported to have said to Mr. Hart, "I've loved working on this picture of yours. Usually I play gin-rummy with the boys when scenes are being shot. But not this time. This time I couldn't leave the set. The picture has such a wonderful moral I didn't want to miss it". "Really?" beamed Mr. Hart, pleased not only as a scenarist but as a reformer. "That's fine. What's the moral as you see it?". "Well, I tell you," replied the stagehand. "Henceforth I'm always going to be good to Jewish people because you never can tell when they will turn out to be Gentiles." See more »

Goofs

When Phil is taking Tommy to meet his (Phil's) mother at Saks Fifth Avenue, they stop in front of the statue of Atlas outside Rockefeller Center. In the shot of the two of them talking, with Fifth Avenue in the background, Saks is directly behind them, diagonally across the street on the right, with St. Patrick's Cathedral on the left. But when Phil looks at his watch and tells Tommy they'd better leave to meet grandma, the two hurry off back north along Fifth Avenue - in the completely opposite direction of the plainly visible Saks. See more »

Quotes

Phil Green: Some people hate Catholics, some people hate Jews.
Tommy Green: And no one hates us because we're Americans.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 70th Annual Academy Awards (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
With The Holocaust Fresh In Everyone's Mind......................................
3 February 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

It's hard for today's audience to appreciate the impact of Gentlemen's Agreement in 1947. The Holocaust was not in textbooks then, it was in newsreels showed in American theaters. The state of Israel was coming into being and there was debate about that with Harry Truman shortly overruling a lot of his own trusted advisers including his own Secretary of State George C. Marshall, in giving recognition to the nascent Jewish state.

During the course of the film names like Gerald L.K. Smith, Theodore G. Bilbo, and John E. Rankin are mentioned. The first was a Protestant evangelical minister who started out with Huey Long, but then developed a line of anti-Semitism in his sermons. He had a considerably large following back in the day though the Holocaust did a lot in killing his recruiting. Theodore G. Bilbo and John E. Rankin were a couple of Mississippi politicians who for their redneck constituency successfully linked anti-Semitism and racism. They didn't like foreign born either and used a whole lot of ethnic slurs.

But the anti-Semitism that Gregory Peck takes on is not that of Bilbo, Smith, and Rankin. It's the genteel country club anti-Semitism that manifests itself in restricted resorts, quotas as to how many Jews will some white shoe law firm accept if any, discrimination in hiring practices, unspoken covenants {gentlemen's agreements} not to sell to Jews in certain areas; all these we see in Gentlemen's Agreement.

Peck is given an assignment to write about it and he hits on a novel approach. Just being hired by publisher Albert Dekker, he gets Dekker's backing when he says he will pretend he's Jewish and see how he's being treated. He gets quite an experience in the bargain.

Running parallel to Peck's masquerade is his courtship of Dorothy McGuire. She's a divorcée, he's a widower with a young son. The whole thing puts a strain on their relationship, especially in dealing with her sister, Jane Wyatt who lives in one of those restricted by Gentlemen's Agreement communities.

Gentlemen's Agreement came up with several nominations and three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director to Elia Kazan, and Best Supporting Actress to Celeste Holm as a tart tongued fashion writer at Peck's magazine who proves to be a friend. Peck himself was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Ronald Colman for A Double Life. Holm also beat out Anne Revere nominated for the same film, probably helped by the fact that Revere had won a few years earlier for National Velvet.

John Garfield who was Jewish took a small supporting role in the film as Peck's long time childhood friend who educates Peck into how a Jew deals with the rebuffs he's finding out about. Had he not been up also for Body and Soul as Best Actor, he might well have earned a Supporting Actor nomination here.

Also note Sam Jaffe as the fictional professor Lieberman which is a thinly veiled caricature of Albert Einstein probably the most noted figure in the world of Jewish background. Like Lieberman, Einstein's a cultural Jew, not religious in any sense of the word. Nevertheless he was a leading figure at the time in the Zionist movement, having endured all that Peck endured in Germany and seeing what was coming with Hitler, fled his native Germany for safe harbor in the USA.

My favorite character in the film however has always been June Havoc as Peck's secretary. She changed her name to something ethnically neutral to get her job in the very magazine that will now crusade against anti-Semitism. She's also become a self hater, a phenomenon that other discriminated people also experience. GLBT activists are fully aware of what self hate has done, not hardly unknown among other groups as Ms. Havoc demonstrates.

Of course Gentlemen's Agreement is dated with its topical references to post World War II trends and events. Yet it still has a powerful message to deliver. It made Gregory Peck one of the great liberal icons of Hollywood and still should be seen by all as a great lesson in the pitfalls of unreasoning hate.


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