I Was Jewish for Six Months

Gentleman’s Agreement is a universal look at prejudice. Based on the Laura Z. Hobson book about a journalist pretending to be Jewish in order to understand their daily struggles. Unlike The Life of Emile Zola, anti-semitism is far more openly discussed. Of course by then the war was over, but that didn’t stop the film from gaining controversy. Something Best Director winner Eli Kazan is no stranger to. Ironically it was the same kind of people that the movie shines a spotlight on. Gentleman’s Agreement is about anti-semitism, but it can honestly be applied to any minority.

The movie Crossfire was originally about homosexuality before it was changed to anti-semitism as well. Both 1947 movies were nominated for Best Picture, but Gentleman’s Agreement ended up winning. Though it’s not so much the film’s quality as it is the message. Gentleman’s Agreement surprisingly looks at prejudice from every angle. Phil Green encounters outright anti-semites, people trying to hide their prejudice, people who are unconsciously prejudice, and even self-hating Jews. It was interesting seeing a young Gregory Peck talk about race decades before playing Atticus Finch.

Phil tells most of the people he meets that he’s Jewish, but only a small circle of people know he’s a Gentile. There’s his sick mother played by Anne Revere and his son Tommy played by a young Dean Stockwell. Phil has to explain prejudice to a child and deal with his son being bullied for it. He gets help from his Jewish friend Dave Goldman and his boss’ niece Kathy. Phil and Kathy fall in love, but his Jewish lifestyle makes her feel more prejudice than she actually is. Dorothy McGuire is great at portraying the inner conflict, but only Celeste Holm ended up winning Best Supporting Actress playing a close friend. Gentleman’s Agreement isn’t an easy discussion piece, but it is a necessary one.

Gentleman's Agreement

Phil and Kathy attend a party

4 thoughts on “I Was Jewish for Six Months

  1. This was a very daring and much needed film in the Post War days, there was so much hate still and it needed to be stopped. The emotions Peck goes through I think resonate with lots of people, even today. Sometimes experiencing prejudice and hate yourself really opens your eyes to what millions of others live with everyday. John Garfield cited this film as one of the best he was ever involved with.

    Liked by 1 person

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