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Representations of Jews and Jewish Life in Film

The Debt (2010)

Directed by John Madden. Cast: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Jesper Christensen, Martin Csokas, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson. The story begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel and Stephan about their former colleague David. All three have been venerated for decades by Israel because of the secret mission that they embarked on for their country back in 1965-1966, when the trio tracked down Nazi war criminal Dieter Vogel, the feared Surgeon of Birkenau, in East Berlin.

The Debt (Israel, 2007)

Directed by Assaf Bernstein. Cast: Gila Almagor, Neta Garty, Yehezkel Lazarov, Alexander Peleg, Edgar Selge, Itay Tiran. 1964: three young Mossad agents capture the 'Surgeon of Birkenau,' a monstrous Nazi war criminal. While being brought to public trial, the Surgeon manages to escape. Faced with failure in their mission, the agents report their captive committed suicide and return to Israel as national heroes. 1997: more than thirty years later, the supposedly dead Surgeon resurfaces in the Ukraine, determined to confess his crimes. 93 min.

The Devil's Arithmatic(TV, 1999)

Directed by Donna Deitch. Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Brittany Murphy, Paul Freeman, Mimi Rogers, Louise Fletcher. When Hannah Stern, a 13 year-old girl neglectful to her Jewish heritage and "tired of remembering," goes to open the door to the prophet Elijha during the Seder she finds herself in 1940s Poland. After being sent to a Nazi concentration camp she must use her knowledge of the future to survive the past and learn something about the importance of remembering. Based on the novel: The devil's arithmetic / by Jane Yolen. 97 min.

The Frisco Kid (1979)

Directed by Robert Aldrich. Cast: Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford. A innocent Polish rabbi travels through 1850s America toward his new congregation and wife in San Francisco. Along the way, he forms an uneasy alliance with an inept bank robber and the two cut a pratfall-filled path across the wild west. 119 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
See also:Robert Aldrich bibliography

The Girl of Your Dreams (La Nina de tus ojos) (Spain, 1998)

Directed by Fernando Trueba. Cast: Neus Asensi, Jesus Bonilla, Penelope Cruz, Karel Dobry, Loles Leon, Gotz Otto, Antonio Resines, Jorge Sanz, Rosa Maria Sarda. In Civil War torn Spain, Germany invites a group of filmmakers to shoot two versions of the Andalusian musical drama "The girl of your dreams" in Berlin. Happy to leave the war behind them, the troupe of Spaniards starts filming in Hitler's Berlin. The hospitality upon their arrival has more to do with the youthful charms of Macarena Granada.

The Golem: How He Came Into the World (Germany, 1920, Germany)

Directed by Carl Boese and Paul Wegener. Set in medieval Prague, the rabbi gives life to the Golem who falls in love with the rabbi's daughter and brings fear to the emperor's court. He is destroyed by an innocent child. Based on the legend of the Golem, a popular figure in Jewish tradition. Restored authorized edition, 86 min.: 90 min. version: 94 min. version: Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

The Hebrew Hammer (2003)

Directed by Jonathan Kesselman. Cast: Andy Dick, Adam Goldberg, Judy Greer, Mario Van Peebles, Nora Dunn, Peter Coyote. Comedy Central presents a wildly satirical and politically incorrect comedy about a psychotic Santa who tries to destroy Chanukah by hypnotizing Jewish children with bootlegged copies of the Christmas film, "It's a Wonderful Life." Its up to semitic super stud Hebrew Hammer, together with Mohammed, head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, to hunt down the renegade Santa and make the holiday season safe for all. 85 min.

The Holy Land (Israel, 2001)

Directed by Eitan Gorlin. Cast: Oren Rehany, Tchelet Semel, Saul Stein. Set in Jerusalem, this is the story of Mendy, a young rabbinical student who is restless to learn about the bigger world. On the unconventional advice of his teacher, Mendy visits a brothel in order to exhaust his lust and restlessness, but instead falls in love with a Russian prostitute, Sasha. Mendy plummets further when he discovers Mike's Place, a bar on the edge of society run by an American expatriate, where Muslims, Christians and Jews all mingle to unseen ends. 101 min.

The House I Live In (1945)

Directed Mervyn LeRoy. Written by Albert Maltz. Cast: Frank Sinatra. "Frank Sinatra didn't become a "respected" actor until almost a decade after this 1945 short, but The House I Live In was Sinatra?s first Oscar-winning film. The movie, written by future blacklistee Albert Maltz and set to a song composed by leftist songwriter Earl Robinson, opens with a gang of kids chasing a kid who is "different" [i.e., Jewish].

The Infidel (UK, 2010)

Directed by Josh Appignanesi. Cast: Omid Djalili, Richard Schiff, Archie Panjabi, Igal Naor, Amit Shah. Meet Mahmud Nasir, loving husband, doting father, and something of a relaxed Muslim. He may not be the most observant, but in his heart he is a true Muslim. After his mother's death, Mahmud finds his birth certificate, which reveals that he was adopted at birth and he's Jewish, with the real name of Solly Shimshillewitz!

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