|Gentleman's Agreement Gregory Peck (VHS, 2003) NEW SEALED|
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Charlestown, NH, USA
|Gentleman's Agreement (VHS, 2003)|
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Audiences in 2008 may not appreciate the political impact "Gentleman's Agreement" had in 1947, when it won a Best Picture Oscar. The WWII holocaust wasn't in history books. B&W newsreels only showed mini-documentaries of Nazi barbarism in US cinemas. Israel was just becoming a state & there was a debate about recognizing Israel with US Pres. Harry Truman over-ruling trusted advisers, including Sec. of State George Marshall.
During this film names are dropped like Gerald L. K. Smith, a Protestant evangelical preacher who started out with Huey Long, but then developed a routine thread of anti-Semitism in his sermons. Smith had a large following, although the holocaust put a damper on his recruitment. Theodore G. Bilbo & John E. Rankin are also mentioned. Bilbo & Rankin were Mississippi politicians for confederate constituencies, who effectively linked anti-Semitism & racism. They didn't like "foreigners," either. It was typical of them to use gross ethnic slurs.
In "Gentleman's Agreement" the type of anti-Semitism that Philip Schuyler Green (Gregory Peck) takes to task is not the same as Bilbo's, Smith's & Rankin's. As an investigative reporter, Green discovers a 'genteel country club' anti-Semitism that manifests in restricted resorts; private clubs; white-shoe law firm quotas on how many Jews it hires; housing discrimination; unspoken covenants not to sell to Jews in specified locations; & more, are experienced by Green as 'gentleman's agreements'.
Green is selected to write a magazine article about anti-semitism. As Green struggles to find a unique style of conveying his story, he comes to rely upon his trusted method of gathering data: become one among the studied; in this case, he passes a Jew named Greenberg.
Soon after being hired for this assignment, by publisher Albert Dekker (John Minify), Green gets Dekker's backing when he proposes to pass as a Jew in order to experience first hand what a Jew does. When June Havoc (Green's secretary) admits she changed her name to an ethnically neutral one in order to get her job at the magazine for which Green's writing against anti-Semitism, it is the beginning of Green's understanding of the insidiousness of supremacism, as well as how bigotry is turned inward.
Green undergoes quite a bit more of an 'education' than he bargained for. Running parallel to Green's masquerade is his courtship of Kathy Lacy (Dorothy McGuire). She's a divorcée; he's a widower with a young son. Green's secret research puts a strain on their courtship. Lacy's dealings with her sister, Jane (Jane Wyatt), who resides in a restricted community by "gentleman's agreement" means Lacy's choice of a Jewish boyfriend poses contention between sisters.
In 1947, "Gentleman's Agreement," created quite a national stir when it won 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan) & Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), as Anne Dettrey, a sharp-tongued fashion writer at the magazine who befriends Green. Peck was nominated for Best Actor & there were other nominations.
John Garfield who was Jewish, portrays Dave Goldman, Green's lifelong Jewish friend, in a bit part educating Green about how a Jew deals with bigotry. Sam Jaffe (Professor Lieberman) plays a thinly veiled caricature of Albert Einstein, likely the most notable Jewish world figure. Like Lieberman, Einstein was a cultural Jew; not religious. He was a leading figure during the Zionist movement in Nazi Germany who fled to the US for safety~
This movie explores anti-semetic prejudice with a vengeance. It is a very moving story. I think it was excellently done.