UC Berkeley Library

Yiddish Film

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.

A Vilna Legend (Tkies khaf) (USA / Poland, 1924)

Directed by George Roland. Cast: Joseph Buloff, Ester Rokhl-Kominska, Ida Kominska, Zygmunt Turkow, Adam Domb, Moshe Litman, Lev Molilow, Simcha Balanoff, Jacob Meistel, Leib Kadison, Benjamin Fishbein and Ben Basenko. A tale of frustrated love and destiny set in the Jewish community of Vilna before the second world war. A yeshiva student and a poor girl who are deeply in love are assisted by the prophet Elijah after it seems that fate and dishonest people have conspired to keep them apart. 60 min.

Almonds and Raisins: A History of the Yiddish Cinema.

A documentary on the Yiddish cinema in America, primarily in New York City from 1927 to the 1940's. Features extensive excerpts from Yiddish films (most subtitled in English) including The cantor's son, Overture to glory with Moishe Oysher, Yidl mitn Fidl with Molly Picon and Tevye with Maurice Schwartz. Has contemporary footage of New York City and Eastern European village life. Includes interviews with those who have participated in the Yiddish cinema. 90 min.

American Matchmaker (Americaner Schadchen) (USA, 1940)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Cast: Leo Fuchs, Judith Abarbanel, Judel Dubinsky, Anna Guskin, Celia Bodkin, Abraham Lax. In this comedy of second-generation American Jewish immigrants, Nat, who has been unhappily married several times, decides that if he cannot have happiness he can at least bring joy to others by becoming a modern day matchmaker. But life becomes complicated when he realizes that one of his female clients is better suited for him, than the man he originally chose for her. In Yiddish with English subtitles. 87 min.

Catskill Honeymoon (USA, 1950)

Directed by Joe Berne. Cast: Al Murray, Max Bozhyk, Rose Bozhyk, Bobby Colt, Feder Sisters, Julius Adler. A Jewish resort hotel celebrates a pair of longtime customers' fiftieth wedding anniversary by staging an old-fashioned Borscht Belt show replete with singers, dancers, comedians, and impressionists. The show concludes with a fervent musical tribute to the year-old State of Israel. Filmed on location at Young's Gap Hotel in Parksville, New York. 94 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

East and West (Mizreh un Mayrev; Ost und West) (Austria, 1923)

Directed by Sidney M. Goldin. Cast: Molly Picon, Jacob Kalish, Sidney M. Goldin, Saul Nathan, Laura Glucksman, Eugen Newfeld, Johannes Roth. In this comedic film about assimilation and Jewish values, sophisticated New Yorker Morris Brown travels back to his village to attend his niece's traditional wedding. There he encounters the rambunctious Mollie, whose hijinks include boxing, and teaching other young villagers to shimmy. Mollie meets her match, however, in an engaging young yeshiva scholar who forsakes tradition and joins the secular world to win her heart.

God, Man and Devil (Got, Mensh un Teyvel)(USA, 1949)

Directed by Joseph Seiden. Cast: Michal Michalesko, Berta Gersten, Lucy Gehrman, Gustav Berger. Poor, pious Torah scribe Hershalle Debrovner has a life that glorifies God until Satan, disguised as a business partner, turns him into a greedy, dishonest factory owner whose success desecrates both his religion and his community; betrayal and abandonment replace serenity and familiarity. Based on the play by Jacob Gordin. 100 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Green Fields (Grine Felder) (USA, 1937)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. "Based on the play by Peretz Hirschbein. An ascetic-quixotic yeshiva student sets out in search of "true Jews"--those whose spirit is the more profound for their connection to the land, unadulterated by the evils of city life. He finds that and more, as he becomes the quarry of two farm families who want him for their children's tutor. Quite in spite of himself the dreamy pedant (Michael Goldstein) inspires a variety of desires including a lust for learning in the irrepressible Tsine (Helen Beverly) and her wide-eyed brother Avrem-Yankl (Herschel Bernardi).

His Wife's Lover (USA, 1931)

Directed by Sidney M. Goldin. Featuring Ludwig Satz, Isidore Casher, Lucy Levin, Lillian Feinman, Michael Rosenberg, Jacob Frank, Zita Ma-Kar, Anne Shapiro. "When handsome actor Eddie Wien (played by Ludwig Satz) decides to marry, his backer Oscar (Isidore Casher) offers misogyny thinly disguised as advice. But surprises confront this devilish pair as their poor target (Lucy Levine as Golde Blumberg) struggles to separate her feelings from her scruples." 80 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

I Want to be a Boarder (USA, 1937)

Directed by Joseph Seiden. Cast: Leo Fuchs, Yetta Zwerling. The story of a husband and wife who pretend to be landlady and tenant. 15 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

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