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 ... Prof. 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie mentions three real people well-known for their racism and anti-Semitism at the time: Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-Mississippi), who advocated sending all African-Americans back to Africa; Rep. John Rankin (D-Mississippi), who called columnist Walter Winchell "the little kike" on the floor of the House of Representatives; and leader of "Share Our Wealth" and "Christian Nationalist Crusade" Gerald L.K. Smith, who tried legal means to prevent "Twentieth Century-Fox" from showing the movie in Tulsa. He lost the case, but then sued "Fox" for $1,000,000. The case was thrown out of court in 1951. See more »

Goofs

When the family are having breakfast at the start of the film, at one point Tommy is about to bring a spoonful of cereal to his mouth. However, in the shot right afterwards he dips it into the bowl again. See more »

Quotes

Tommy Green: They were playing hop, and I asked if I could play too, and the one from school said no dirty little Jew could play with them. And they all yelled those other things. I started to speak, and they all yelled that my father has a long curly beard, and they turned and ran. Why did they, Pop? Why?
Phil Green: Come on , drink some of this.
[offering a glass of water]
Phil Green: Did you want to tell them that you weren't really Jewish?
Tommy Green: No.
Phil Green: That's good. See, there's are a lot of kids just like you Tommy, who are Jewish, and if ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The main title theme begins with the Fox logo, replacing the usual Alfred Newman fanfare. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Gregory Peck (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Street Scene
Composed by Alfred Newman
Played during opening scene
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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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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:

$1,985,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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