7.1/10
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15 user 4 critic

The Chosen (1981)

PG | | Drama | 30 April 1982 (USA)
In 1944, in Brooklyn, two Jewish kids become friends. One is from a very conservative family, and the other is more liberal. The issues of importance of tradition, parental expectations and the formation of Israel cause constant friction.

Director:

Jeremy Kagan (as Jeremy Paul Kagan)

Writers:

Chaim Potok (novel), Edwin Gordon (screenplay)
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5 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maximilian Schell ... Professor David Malter
Rod Steiger ... Reb Saunders
Robby Benson ... Danny Saunders
Barry Miller ... Reuven Malter
Hildy Brooks Hildy Brooks ... Mrs. Saunders
Kaethe Fine Kaethe Fine ... Shaindel Saunders
Ron Rifkin ... Baseball Coach
Robert John Burke ... Levi Saunders (as Robert Burke)
Lonny Price ... Davey
Evan Handler ... Sidney Goldberg
Douglas Warhit Douglas Warhit ... Sam
Jeffrey Marcus ... Schwartzi (as Jeff Marcus)
Stuart Charno ... 1st Baseman
Richard Lifschutz Richard Lifschutz ... Hassidic Coach
Clement Fowler Clement Fowler ... Doctor
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Storyline

Brooklyn 1944. Despite being the same age, having grown up within blocks of each other, and both being Jewish, late teens Danny Saunders and Reuven Malter don't really know each other - knowing each other only by name and by sight - as Orthodox Danny stays largely within his own Hasidic community, which is just fine in Reuven's mind. An incident between the two which on the surface threatens to tear them even further apart instead blossoms into a friendship between the two. They begin to learn more and more about the other and their lives, which for Danny includes becoming a rabbi, solely as it is a several generations old family calling. In Reb Saunders' mind, he who rules his family by strict Hasidic traditions, Danny becoming the next rabbi in the family is not even a question, despite Danny, deep in his heart, wanting other secular pursuits which he has not told his father. Conversely, Reuven has modern sensibilities, being raised in a two-person household by his widowed academic ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Hebrew | German

Release Date:

30 April 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Os Escolhidos See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Chosen Film Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Maximilien Schell and Rod Steiger apparently swapped roles just before production begun. See more »

Goofs

While Danny and Reuvan discuss the Ba'al Shem Tov, he is referred to as "Master of the Good Word." "Shem" is Hebrew for name. The Ba'al Shem Tov's name is "Master of the Good Name" - not Master of the Good Word. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Reuven Malter: There is a story in the Talmud about a king who had a son who went astray. The son was told, 'Return to your father.' The son replied that he could not. The king then sent a messenger to the son with the message... 'Come back to me as far as you can, and I will meet you the rest of the way.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Hebrew Hammer (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Invention No. 4 in D-, BWV 775
(uncredited)
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Barry Miller
Reuven practices playing the piece on the piano
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Jewish Brooklyn of the 40s
31 July 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Brooklyn I grew up in is a generation ahead of the kids you see typified by Barry Miller and Robby Benson. Still enough of it is quite familiar. The Chosen is a story of an unusual friendship between two very different types of Jewish kids in Brooklyn during the 1940s. That they got to be friends at all is a miracle of sorts because Hassidics are still a most clannish and insular people and rarely accept outsiders.

Although it's pick up baseball game that begins The Chosen, no mention of the Dodgers in a film about 40s Brooklyn. Barry Miller is the son of Professor Maximilian Schell who is both a scholar and a committed Zionist. Robby Benson is not only Hassidic but the son of the grand Rebbe who is head of that particular sect of Hassidim.

For those that don't know the Hassidim are those extreme Orthodox Jews who still dress as they would in the 16th century. They are concentrated in a few sections of Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Boro Park, and Crown Heights still to this day.

Not all Hassidim have that view of the state of Israel that we see displayed by Rod Steiger. He hews to a strict interpretation of the Old Testament that the Messiah, a descendant of David comes back to establish the Kingdom of Israel. It's not to be established by socialists like David Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizman. No secular state in any event, that is as they would say it, a Shanda.

These two different kinds of Jewish kids were a tick under the draft age to serve in World War II. They saw in movie newsreels the liberation of the concentration camps. You have to appreciate how that indelibly impressed the mind of Jews of most kind except for the few like Steiger.

Benson really does not want to be a rabbi, but it's expected he follow tradition. As for Miller he's not about to abandon his more liberal views, he likes the warm family life that Steiger and his clan have and is more spiritual than his father.

Schell and Miller, Steiger and Benson, this quartet delivers a fine adaption of Chaim Potok's acclaimed novel. This film really hit home with me and it is a fine portrayal of Jewish life in Brooklyn in a historic time.


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