UC Berkeley Library

A Letter to Mother (A brivele der mamen) (Poland / USA, 1938)

Directed by Joseph Green. Cast: Lucy Gehrman, Misha Gehrman, Edmund Zayenda. Set in the Polish Ukraine and New York City, the film traces the break-up of a family due to stress, poverty, the chaos of war and the difficulties of immigrant life. One of the last Yiddish films to be produced in Warsaw, this moving story focuses on one Jewish mother's efforts to keep her family together. "...arguably the most artful and shameless of Yiddish weepies." (J. Hoberman) "Set in the Ukraine before World War I and in New York afterwards, this was one of the last films made in Poland (Warsaw) before the Nazi invasion. Its tale of loss, family disintegration and poverty serves director Joseph Green as a metaphor for the displacements and difficulties facing European Jews in 1939. Lucy Gehrman's performance as the storekeeper-mother, whose heroic attention to the everyday eventually rewards her travails, stands out, as do Max Bozyk and Chane Levin's comic interludes." (National Center for Jewish Film) A wonderful mix of intense melodrama and stylized comedy." 100 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
Related web sites:Description from National Center for Jewish Film catalog
Reviews and articles:
Cohen, Joseph. "Two Yiddish films : "East and West" and "A Little Letter to Mother" Jewish Quarterly 46,1 (1999) 53-56
Pevner, Chaim. "Joseph Green, the visionary of the "golden age" In: When Joseph met Molly : a reader on Yiddish film / edited by Sylvia Paskin. Nottingham : Five Leaves, 1999. (Main Stack PN1995.9.Y54.W44 1999)

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