6.9/10
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22 user 24 critic

Hester Street (1975)

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East ... See full summary »

Writers:

Joan Micklin Silver (screenplay), Abraham Cahan (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Keats Steven Keats ... Jake
Carol Kane ... Gitl
Mel Howard Mel Howard ... Bernstein
Dorrie Kavanaugh Dorrie Kavanaugh ... Mamie
Doris Roberts ... Mrs. Kavarsky
Stephen Strimpell Stephen Strimpell ... Joe Peltner
Lauren Friedman ... Fanny (as Lauren Frost)
Paul Freedman Paul Freedman ... Joey
Martin Garner Martin Garner ... Boss
Leib Lensky Leib Lensky ... Peddler
Zane Lasky Zane Lasky ... Greenhorn
Zvee Scooler ... Rabbi
Eda Reiss Merin Eda Reiss Merin ... Rabbi's Wife
Robert Lesser ... Lawyer
Joanna Merlin ... Jake's Landlady
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Storyline

It's 1896. Yankel Bogovnik, a Russian Jew, emigrated to the United States three years earlier and has settled where many of his background have, namely on Hester Street on the Lower East Side of New York City. He has assimilated to American life, having learned English, anglicized his name to Jake, and shaved off his beard. He is working at a $12/week job as a seamster, the money earned to be able to bring his wife Gitl and his son Yossele to America from Russia. Regardless, he has fallen in love with another woman, a dancer named Mamie Fein. Nonetheless, he is excited when he learns that Gitl and Yossele are indeed coming to America. His happiness at their arrival is dampened when he sees that Gitl is not "American" looking like Mamie and has troubles assimilating as quickly as he would like. Except to Mamie, he tries to show a public façade that everything is fine at home with Gitl. But can their marriage survive these differences, and if not, will Gitl be able to manage in this new... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Goodbye O Lord, I'm Going To America!

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Yiddish

Release Date:

6 August 1976 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Hester Street See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$350,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Midwest Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Raphael D. Silver raised the money to finance the film. See more »

Goofs

Early scene at table with Gitl, her husband, son and boarder, one can see the mic in the upper right-hand corner. See more »

Quotes

Jake: Gitl, you are in America now. In America they don't wear wigs.
Gitl: No, I have a kerchief.
Jake: They don't wear kerchiefs either!
Gitl: Yankel, I can't go around in my own hair. I'm a married woman.
Jake: Alright, put on the kerchief.
See more »


Soundtracks

Music for Cornet
(uncredited)
Composed by Herbert L. Clarke
Adapted by William Bolcom
Performed by Gerard Schwarz
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A simple plot, no, but satisfying.
11 May 2006 | by RARubinSee all my reviews

It's pretty tough to build a realistic set of the Lower East Side, New York City, 1896. The Godfather films did the best they could. When directors shoot the distant past of our great grandfathers, they usually shoot in tempera hue antiquing the scenes, so we feel we are looking through a time machine. In the case of Joan Micklin Silver's, Hester Street, she shoots with black and white stock. All I'm saying, audiences won't believe it is the past without a newsreel or spooky tempera projection.

The documentary feel to Hester Street, the authentic clothing and dialect, the old Russian to English dialect fills the viewer, especially Jewish filmgoers with a weird sense of nostalgia since no one today, in 2006 is alive to tell the immigrant story. The poverty, crowded conditions, popular prejudices, and alienation were a fact of life. It is amusing that these immigrants assimilated, learning English, building jobs, and business within two generations; all hardship forgotten consciously, but I would assert, not unconsciously.

Carol Kane, Gitl, is a wonderful young country wife flabbergasted by the modern, secular ways of America. Her husband, actor, Steven Keats has left the greenhorn, religious Jew nonsense behind as he takes on a new girlfriend, a hottie for her day. His wife arrives with child unexpectedly thwarting his plans. Keats rejects her old world ways. Waiting in the wings is a boarder, a religious man that admires Gitl. A simple plot, no, but satisfying.


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