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Uncle Moses (Onkl Mozes) (USA, 1932)

Directed by Aubrey Scotto & Sidney Goldin. Cast: Maurice Schwartz, Rubin Golberg, Judith Abarbanel, Zvee Scooler, Mark Schweid, Sally Schor, Jacob Mestel, Rebecca Weintraub, Sam Gertler. ""Maurice Schwartz, the monarch of New York's Yiddish theater, plays a sweatshop owner in Uncle Moses.... Patriarch and exploiter, cunning businessman and dazzled suitor, Moses is a symphony of contradictions, which Schwartz orchestrates brilliantly." (Richard Corliss, Time, 1992) The first Yiddish sound film to deal with a contemporary social theme, Uncle Moses is a portrayal of life on the Lower East Side, depicting transplanted Jews whose values are not so much unraveling as transmogrifying before our eyes in the sweatshops and crowded tenements. Moses--in Poland, a lowly butcher, in America, the benevolent despot of Orchard Street--would seem the apotheosis of change, but not really. He himself represents an old order, the patriarch who asserts that his workers are mishpokhe (family--but they're not buying it), whose vanity produces sundry progeny, whose deep pockets buy him a bride (or rather, her family.) Change comes only when he realizes that, as a human being, he is powerlessness in pressed pants. Then Schwartz's delightfully comic ham transforms into that thing that had him known as "the Olivier of the Yiddish stage."" [from InfoMedia Judaica catalog] Adapted from the 1932 version of the Yiddish Talking Pictures. 87 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database
web web sites:Description from National Center for Jewish Film catalog
Reviews and articles:
Hoberman, J. "Der Ershter talkies: 'Uncle Moses' and the coming of Yiddish sound film." Film Comment Nov-Dec 1991 v27 n6 p32(8)Full-text of this article / review is available:Berkeley users only