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Gentleman's Agreement (1947) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Philip Green, played by Gregory Peck, is a famous and well-liked writer. Upon receiving an assignment to write a series of articles on antisemitism in the U.S. after World War II, he begins telling people that he is of Jewish faith. He falls in love with Kathy Lacy, played by Dorothy McGuire, and reveals to her the secret antisemitic ways of thinking she has. Philip Green believes in doing the right thing immediately when wrong has been done and noticed. He lives with the eyes and ears of a Jew and discovers the bigotry and prejudice that lies within even the nicest of people.

  • Widowed now for seven years, Phil Green, who uses his middle name "Schuyler" Green as his pen name for the commentaries he writes primarily on social issues, has just moved from Los Angeles to New York City with his mother and preteen son Tommy to start work in the main office of his company, Smith's Weekly, a national magazine. His editor, John Minify, suggests as his first story a series on antisemitism. He is not enthralled with the topic, which he feels has been covered by all pertinent angles by a multitude of writers, until Tommy asks him about the entire nature of the subject, he who has no idea what it all means and why. Even then, Schuyler is having problems coming up with a suitable angle. But he does come up with what he believes is a new and fresh angle: he will pretend to be Jewish for the period that he is writing the series, he reverting back the more Jewish sounding Phil Green as his name, and as such he will be his own guinea pig. The only people who will know that he is really a gentile is his family, Minify, his wife and who becomes Schuyler's girlfriend, Minify's niece, divorced schoolteacher Kathy Lacy, who came up with the antisemitism story idea to begin with. Through this process, "Phil" will encounter much racism, not only against Jews but other minorities, and from unexpected sources. Although he expected open racism, it is the people who stand by and watch it happen without doing anything about it that ends up bothering him the most. He expected the process to affect his own life, which he could handle, but he may not be able to handle how it affects those around him, most specifically his mother, who is facing some health issues, Tommy and Kathy, the latter with whose relationship is also affected. His long time friend, Dave Goldman, who often shortens it to the less Jewish sounding Dave Gold, may be able to give Phil and those around him a better perspective of what is happening.

    Huggo
  • Phil Green is a highly-regarded investigative journalist. He moves to New York after accepting a contract to write an in-depth article for a magazine. The article is on anti-Semitism and is very topical, as at the time there is quite a large amount of prejudice against Jews in the US. However, it is not a new topic and Phil's editor wants him to cover the issue in an original way. After much brainstorming, Phil decides to pose as Jewish, in order to experience the prejudice first hand. He is not prepared for what he finds.

    grantss
  • This film is about a journalist who passes himself off as a Jew to write an article about anti- Semitism in America. He discovers just how this affects him, and the other people in his life. Demonstrates how racism affects a person, especially the subtle forms which may go unnoticed by many in today's world. It also shows how otherwise good people can and do contribute to racism in small, everyday, ways.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Phil Green() is a recently widowed father and a writer who is hired by a large urban magazine to write a series on anti-Semitism. The magazine publisher John Minify () wants Green to immerse himself in the subject and not rely on what the research department at the magazine can deliver. After many nights pounding away on the typewriter keys and plenty of soulful searching with his live-in mother () Green hits on the notion that he will tell everyone that he is Jewish in order to get an unbiased response from those he comes in contact with. Immediately Green becomes aware of the "Gentleman's Agreement" that is shared in polite society, that the biased attitudes between Christians and Jews is a conspiracy of silence allowing prejudice to thrive. This is problematic for the new girl he has just met, Kathy Lacey () who loves Green but is dismayed by the pretense in order to get at the truth of hypocritical treatment that Jews suffer. Kathy is from a Christian Connecticut family and when she introduces Phil to her family the pretense of his Jewish-ness causes the relationship to strain. When Phil's long-time friend Dave Goldman () comes to visit from the Army and learns of his friend's posing as a Jew to get insider information he alerts him to the fact that he has let himself and his son Tommy () in for a quiet onslaught of prejudice. As Phil continues in his truth-searching quest he becomes more sensitive to the treatment he receives from others when they think he is not Christian and the learning experience proves valuable to his personal growth and to those around him.

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