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
Darryl F. Zanuck felt the time was right to bring up the subject of anti-Semitism, following the full disclosure of what had actually gone on in the Nazi death camps. See more »
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 »
Pop, are we Jewish? Jimmy Kelley said we were. Our janitor told his janitor.
Well, what did you tell Jimmy Kelley?
I said I'd ask you.
Well, it's like this. Remember that movie Kathy and I took you to, and you asked if things like that really happened?
Kathy said they were pretending.
Well, I'm pretending I'm Jewish for something I'm writing.
You mean like a game?
Yes, but I'd appreciate it if you promised not to tell anybody it's a game.
Okay, Pop, sure.
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In his commentary for the DVD of `Gentlemen's Agreement,' critic Richard Schickel spends some of it criticizing the flaws in the movie (something I wish more commentaries would do). Mostly I disagreed with him, especially about Dorothy McGuire's fine performance. She has by far the toughest role in the picture as Gregory Peck's conflicted fiancée, whose complacent belief that she doesn't have an anti-semitic bone in her body is severely tested when he decides to pretend to be Jewish for a newspaper article. I often think of prejudice as the act of automatically assuming something is fact about someone we don't know, based on stereotypical preconceived notions. Anti-semitism is the reference point for the movie, but what it really does is examine the subject of prejudice from many different angles, from its most virulent to its most subtle forms. It even explores the role played by Jewish self-hatred in exacerbating the problem. The only time the film begins to resemble an `After School Special' is in Ann Revere's preachy speech towards the end. On balance, however, `Agreement' is much more complex than it's been given credit for. (I may be too late, but in answer to the User Commenter who wanted to know the name of the main title theme: it's an Alfred Newman original that is only heard that one time in the film. He developed it more extensively a couple of years later in Kazan's "Pinky.")
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