- MOTION PICTURES
- Since the early years of motion pictures, Jews have played a major role in the development of the industry and have been prominent in all its branches. This is true not only of Hollywood, where the role played by Jews is generally known and acknowledged, but of the German film industry up to the Nazi era, Russian film production up to the time of the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, the British film industry up to the present, and contemporary underground motion pictures in the United States. The motion picture was created at a time when the Jews were seeking entry into the economic and cultural life of their host countries. Their involvement with motion pictures was due to a number of factors: the film business had not developed a tradition of its own and had no vested interests to defend; participation in it required no intimate knowledge of the vernacular; and films were not yet the realm of businessmen, entrepreneurs, or professional entertainers, but rather scientists, such as Edison and Lumière, who had no idea of the economic and industrial future of their inventions. In addition, the motion picture was initially regarded as a low-grade form of entertainment – suitable only for the immigrant or the uneducated masses – rather than a valid art form, and those connected with films were held in contempt. New immigrants, therefore, found it relatively easy to enter this field, and Jewish immigrants used the opportunity to transform the media from a marginal branch of entertainment into a multi-million dollar industry. (Nahman Ingber) -In the United States A century ago, motion pictures went from invention to entertainment to being an industry. First introduced in 1896, moving pictures were at first a novelty shown at the end of vaudeville shows or in penny arcades. Sigmund "Pop" Lubin (1851–1923), a Jewish immigrant from Germany built one of the first movie houses in 1899 (he charged ten cents, twice the customary rate). By 1907, more than 100 Nickelodeons – theaters seating fewer than 300 persons and charging a nickel per showing – had opened in New York, and more than a quarter of those were located in the densely populated Lower East Side – home of the great majority of Jewish immigrants. Max Aronson (1882–1971), who changed his name to Gilbert Maxwell Anderson, was the first movie-star cowboy. He had played a role in Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery (1903), the first genuine American feature film. After working at Vitagraph as a production assistant Anderson moved to Chicago and then to California. In 1907, he cofounded the Essenay Co., where he worked as a writer, producer, and actor. In 1908 he launched the "Bronco Billy" western series, which was a great success, producing 375 films in a seven-year period. On Christmas Eve 1908 Mayor McClellan of New York closed all the nickelodeon theaters calling them immoral. Leading the successful fight to have them reopened were former garment worked turned exhibitor william fox (1879–1952) and former newsboy Marcus Loew (1870–1927). Competition was so fierce among exhibitors and producers that in 1909 Thomas Edison signed an agreement with most of the large film companies that led to the founding of the Motion Picture Patents Co. The theater owners were forced to rent projectors and films only from the Motion Picture Patents Co. – in effect Edison was creating a monopoly to keep new independent producers out. Fox and German Jewish immigrant carl laemmle (1867–1939), an exhibitor turned producer and distributor objected to such control; they sued and won in 1912. Laemmle relocated to Southern California with his Universal Film Manufacturing Company (later Universal Studios) leading the exodus of film producers to the West. By 1909 the nickelodeon boom was over; by 1915 the age of movie palaces began. By 1915, movie production had effectively moved to California. The age of the movie moguls had begun. The first large Hollywood company was Paramount, which was founded and managed by Adolph Zukor (1873–1976). Together with Daniel frohman , a theatrical agent, Zukor decided to import a prestigious European film, Queen Elizabeth (1912), starring sarah bernhardt . The film was shown in legitimate theater halls and was reviewed in the regular press, enabling Zukor to claim that film was a legitimate art form. Under the slogan "Famous Players in Famous Plays," Zukor produced films based on literary and dramatic works, with casts of well-established, legitimate actors. He also initiated the practice of advertising the "star" actors in films; the first "star" he promoted was Mary Pickford. jesse lasky (1880–1958) owned a similar production company in Hollywood, and in 1917 he and Zukor founded a joint distribution company called Paramount; two years later their production companies also merged. Paramount produced, distributed, and exhibited films through its own worldwide theater chain. Lasky also brought two of his partners, samuel goldwyn (Goldfish; 1882–1974) and Cecil B. De Mille, into the new company. As Paramount continued to grow, smaller producers were compelled either to disband or merge with one another in order to compete. Paramount's commercial power was based upon the block-booking system that forced local exhibitors to rent an outline group of Paramount's films, rather than choose only those they desired. One producer who tried to fight Paramount was Carl Laemmle, who was developing Universal into one of the giants. William Fox, his former partner in the fight against the Patents Co., joined Twentieth Century and also made it into one of the large Hollywood companies. louis b. mayer , who owned a chain of movie theaters (mainly in New England), purchased the Metro Co. in Hollywood (which had its own studios) and founded the Metro-Mayer Co. Samuel Goldwyn left Paramount in 1919 and, together with the Selwyn brothers, founded the Goldwyn Co. In 1924 it merged with Metro-Mayer to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which was headed by Mayer; Goldwyn himself did not join MGM and instead established one of Hollywood's outstanding independent production companies. Columbia, owned and dominated by harry cohn from 1929 until his death in 1958, was built into a large company during the 1930s by producing a series of successful films by the clever use of stars and directors. Warner Brothers was founded by Sam, Jack, Albert, and Harry warner , who started out with a small exhibition hall and later became the managers of the First National Theater chain, and eventually formed their own company. In 1923 they bought out the Vitagraph Company, owners of the Vitaphone, which was a sort of record that played simultaneously with the silent film. Seeking to improve their difficult financial situation, in 1926 they developed and presented the first film with its own musical score. A year later Warner Brothers produced The Jazz Singer starring al jolson , containing both dialogue and singing parts. Written by Samson Raphaelson, based on his play, and starring Al Jolson as the son of a cantor torn between the observant and secular world, the film was a success and brought about the "sound revolution" in motion pictures and made Warner Brothers into one of the great Hollywood companies. Thus the majority of large Hollywood Studios were founded and controlled by Jews. In addition, the first bank to finance the film industry was the Jewish-owned Kuhn, Loeb and Co., in 1919. These founding fathers of the movie studio were part of a first generation who created "the dream factory," where Jewish immigrant movie moguls, eager to leave the Old World behind, became more American than the Americans (see N. Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Created Hollywood). Other Jews who played a leading role in the large companies were barney balaban , who joined Paramount and became its president in 1936; Nicholas and Joseph M. Schenk, who became presidents of MGM (while Mayer was in charge of its Hollywood operations); and irving thalberg , who was production manager of MGM from the end of the 1920s until his death in 1936. Thalberg, who was responsible for production at the age of 23, was the wunderkind of the film industry and became the symbol of the successful Hollywood producer. In the two years following Warner's The Jazz Singer, Hollywood frantically set about converting to sound. As the studios began importing New York talent, many Jews landed in Hollywood. Among the Jewish performers who made their way west were jack benny , Ben Blue, fanny brice , george burns , Harry Green, Ted Lewis, the marx brothers , sophie tucker , and ed wynn . In addition, directors and writers shifted from theater to film, including men such as george cukor , Sidney Buchman, norman krasna , Charles Lederer, joseph mankiewicz , S.J. Perelman , Robert Riskin, Morrie Ryskind, and ben hecht . In the 1920s and 1930s another wave of Jewish émigrés came to Hollywood. They were mainly directors and actors. ernst lubitsch , who came to the United States in 1923 after achieving fame in Germany, was best known for directing sophisticated comedies with a finesse that became known as the "Lubitsch touch." Among his films were Ninotchka, To Be Or Not To Be, and Cluny Brown. For several years Lubitsch served as president of production of Paramount, the first working director to also be head of a studio. erich van stroheim , an Austrian-born actor and director, became known in the 1920s for his realistic direction, especially in the film Greed. His acting captivated audiences for a period of 30 years. josef von sternberg directed several films in the United States in the 1920s; he directed Blue Angel in Germany in 1930 and became Marlene Dietrich's permanent director, famous for a grand style that made Dietrich into a screen goddess. william wyler , who was born in Germany, began his career as a director in 1928; his films were based mainly on adaptations of literary works, and he was particularly successful in the direction of female stars. billy wilder also began his career in Germany, together with Fred Zinnemann and Robert Siodmak. Wilder's films were distinguished by their sharp humor and bitter irony. Other Jewish actors and directors who arrived in Hollywood from Europe in the 1920s and 1930s leaving their past and sometimes their names behind, were leslie howard , peter lorre , and michael curtiz . Curtiz, a Hungarian, would go on to direct Casablanca – perhaps the greatest American movie – as well as other American classics, including Captain Blood, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Robin Hood, and White Christmas. White Christmas is a great example of the ways in which Jews assimilated American culture, making it their own. "White Christmas" was first born as a song written by irving berlin (né Izzy Baline in Siberia) for the 1942 film Holiday Inn. Wishing for an idealized world "I used to know" that is "merry and bright," the lyrics are, at the same time, wistful, hopeful, and all-inclusive. The song was so popular (it is one of the most popular songs of all time), it spawned a movie of its own. The movie White Christmas as directed by Curtiz pairs Bing Crosby with the very versatile Danny Kaye (born David Kaminsky) in a romantic musical comedy, written by Norman krasna , about two World War II veterans who achieve success in show business and then success in love. Its message is not religious, but universal. Curtiz presents the world as it was and as it should be. Curtiz, like Berlin, was often critiqued for having no signature style. But for Curtiz and Berlin's generation of Jews, being able to work successfully in any number of styles was a virtue unto itself. Making a Christmas movie was not about assimilation, it was about versatility. Curtiz had already assimilated back in Hungary when he first changed his name from Mano Kaminer to Mihaly Kertesz (a more Hungarian-sounding name). The jump from Kertesz to Curtiz was itself a testament to having an identity that was easily translated – that worked, literally and figuratively, in any culture. America was the land of freedom, and for Jewish directors and actors, it was a country where you could do anything, even make a Christmas movie. In 1951, when Mayer was dismissed from his post at MGM, he was replaced by dore schary , who had built a career as a writer. A similar position was held by William Goetz, who was head of 20th Century-Fox and, at a later stage, of Universal International Co. Some of the most successful Jewish producers employed by the studios included joe pasternak , Walter Wanger, arthur freed , Jerry Wald, pandro s. berman , among others. An even more important influence on the film industry – because of their greater control over the nature of the finished product – were the independent producers, such as Mike todd , producer of Around the World in 80 Days, who was connected with the Todd-AO method of cinematography; and David O. selznick , the son of Lewis J. Selznick, one of the industry's pioneers. Next to Samuel Goldwyn, David Selznick became the most famous and successful independent producer. He was responsible for the production of Gone with the Wind (1939), which was one of the most profitable films in Hollywood's history, having grossed $72,000,000 through 1970. Among his other films were David Copperfield, King Kong, Spellbound, and Rebecca. Hal Roach, one of the most prolific producers of comedies, was responsible for a part of the Harold Lloyd series and for the Laurel and Hardy films during the 1920s and 1930s. sam spiegel , who maintained a high artistic standard, using outstanding directors and choosing serious subjects, produced such films as The African Queen, On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia. The mirisch brothers , originally theater owners, established their own company in 1957. After the decline of the big studios, it became one of the most successful Hollywood enterprises, producing West Side Story and The Great Escape. After 1945, stanley kramer , an independent producer who was connected with Columbia, produced such films as Home of the Brave, Champion, High Noon, and Death of a Salesman. Later on he also directed On the Beach, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Ship of Fools. Kramer believed that audiences wanted films that dealt with contemporary life. joseph e. levine , who began as a theater owner and became an importer of cheap or erotic Italian films, then turned to the financing of outstanding European films (8½), and later produced such films as Where Love Has Gone, The Carpetbaggers, and Harlow. Among Jewish directors who earned success at the box office or received great critical acclaim one must include jules dassin , garson kanin , robert aldrich , james brooks , fred zinnemann , joseph l. mankiewicz , sidney lumet , john frankenheimer , Alan Pakula, martin ritt , roman polanski , Michael Curtiz, Mervyn Le Roy, otto preminger , richard brooks , george cukor (d. 1983), daniel mann (d. 1991), delbert mann , and robert rossen . The number of successful Jewish scriptwriters is so vast that only a few can be mentioned here. Among the most famous were ben hecht , samson raphaelson ; george axelrod ; carl forman ; herman mankiewicz ; aaron sorkin ; william goldman ; nora ephron ; Eric Roth; Norman Krasna; and abby mann . Among the prominent composers of musical scores are irving berlin , Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Dmitri Tiomkin (d. 1979), elmer bernstein , and burt bacharach . The first great sex symbol was theda bara (1885–1955), born Theodisia Goodman, whose portrayal of a seductive vampire inspired the appellation "Vamp." Other Jewish actresses known as sex symbols included mae west , Mirna Loy, Sylvia Sydney, hedy lamarr , judy holliday , and more recently, debra winger , Rachel Weisz, and Natalie Portman. There is also a long tradition of Jewish comediennes in which Mae West would also be included, but which begins with fanny brice , and stretches to barbra streisand and bette midler . A small sample of well-known Jewish actors and actresses includes the Marx Brothers, danny kaye , jerry lewis , paul muni , edward g. robinson , eddie cantor , john garfield , Al Jolson, Peter Lorre, zero mostel , tony curtis , alan arkin , lee j. cobb , kirk douglas , melvyn douglas , dustin hoffman , elliot gould , alla nazimova , louise rainer , paulette goddard , shelley winters , Polly Bergen, tovah feldshuh , and lilli palmer . A number of film stars converted to Judaism including sammy davis Junior, marilyn monroe , and elizabeth taylor . By the mid-1930s ethnically distinct characters, especially Jews, were no longer considered desirable by studio heads. The degree to which Hollywood eliminated a Jewish presence can be assessed by comparing The House of Rothschild (1934) with The Life of Emile Zola (1937). In the former there is no question of Rothschild's identity. By contrast, The Life of Emile Zola treats the infamous dreyfus affair, yet oddly never reveals that Dreyfus was a Jew. Despite Hitler's election as chancellor of the Third Reich in 1933, and the growing militarization, civilian restrictions, and legislated discrimination against Jews in Germany, Hollywood remained totally silent on the subject throughout the 1930s. The producers reflected the neutralist philosophy emanating from Washington. MGM's Three Comrades (1938) and the Warner Bros. film Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939) merely intimated at the true horror. Charlie Chaplin, a non-Jew (whom antisemites often labeled "Jewish"), broke ranks by producing The Great Dictator (1940), a comedy which lampooned Hitler and depicted contemporary conditions in his mythical Tomania. With the onset of World War II, Hollywood set about dealing with Fascism, although it was less explicit about Jewish persecution. But it was not until Pearl Harbor that Hollywood went to war in full force. Increasingly the victims were identified as Jews rather than the previous nomenclature non-Aryans (ironically a Nazi classification). Titles include The Pied Piper (1942), None Shall Escape (1944), and Address Unknown (1944). The war also saw the rise of the combat film, which depicted a fighting unit of ethnically and geographically diverse soldiers. Most typically Jews functioned as comic relief. More serious depictions of the Jewish participation in World War II can be found in The Purple Heart (1944) and Pride of the Marines (1945), where characters evidence intelligence, bravery, and patriotism. Following the war and the full knowledge of the Nazi atrocities, it was natural to ask, "How could this happen?" "Could it happen here?" The response to these questions was Crossfire (1947), a murder thriller, and Gentleman's Agreement (1947), a drama which presented a journalist, played by Gregory Peck, posing as a Jew to gain firsthand experience of discrimination. Both films received critical and popular acclaim and, despite initial concern on the part of Jewish agencies, both works proved through testing to be effective tools in combating prejudice. However, it is important to note that when Hollywood needed a handsome actor to play a role where the character was Jewish, such as King David, they preferred a non-Jew such as Gregory Peck to play him, as he did in David and Batsheba (1951), later reprised by Richard Gere in King David (1985). The postwar period also produced an unexpected backlash against Jews, most particularly in Hollywood. Spurred on by anti-Communist fears, conservative individuals were able to effect their prejudices through the workings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Of the original "Hollywood Ten" who faced investigation and charges, seven were Jewish. However, the films of the 1950s consistently promoted tolerance. In no decade are screen Jews so intelligent, patriotic, and unqualifiably likeable. At no other time is religious tolerance and good will so consistently foregrounded. Beginning in 1951 with The Magnificent Yankee, which depicts louis brandeis , to the screen adaptation of Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1960), the films all preach the same message – antisemitism is no longer acceptable; antisemitism is un-American. In between these two works, several important films came to the screen. In 1952 dore schary adapted Ivanhoe, with Elizabeth Taylor in the role of Rebecca. In 1953 the first remake of The Jazz Singer, directed by Michael Curtiz, appeared with Danny Thomas in the lead role. The once Orthodox family have now become assimilated Reform Jews. And in 1959 Paul Muni played the kindly old doctor in the film version of The Last Angry Man (1959). Antisemitism in the U.S. army became the subject of two films – The Naked and the Dead (1958) and The Young Lions (1958). Other films of importance include Majorie Morningstar (1958), the first major film since the 1920s to focus on Jewish domestic life and a precursor of the self-critical approach of the 1960s; Me and the Colonel (1958), a bittersweet comedy about World War II starring Danny Kaye; The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), the first Hollywood film to focus exclusively on the plight of Jews caught in the Holocaust; The Juggler (1953), starring Kirk Douglas, in the first U.S. production shot entirely in Israel; and Exodus (1960), the film which fixed Israel in the American imagination for years to come. Exodus with the handsome paul newman , whose father was Jewish, and in which Newman appears bare-chested wearing a Jewish Star, paved the ground for a new sex symbol: the Jewish Man. The 1960s were a time when the anti-hero took center stage and such non-traditional leading men as Dustin Hoffman, Elliott Gould, and richard dreyfus became stars. Not since the silent era had so many Jewish characters appeared, especially in major roles. Beginning in 1967 with Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate, a series of comedies set a new direction and established Jewish humor as a major mainstream trend for the next two decades. Films such as The Producers (1968), Funny Girl (1968), Take the Money and Run (1969), and Goodbye, Columbus (1969) launched a new Jewish sensibility in America. Although comedy dominated the decade in terms of Jewish film, the Holocaust was approached in two works with forceful impact. First, Abby Mann's Judgment at Nuremburg (1961) soberly approached the range of Nazi injustices. Then in 1965 The Pawnbroker, starring Rod Steiger in the role of a German survivor, was the first American fictional work to treat the camp experience with such harrowing reality. Closely related, The Fixer (1968) depicted Jewish victimization under the Czarist regime, and by implication called attention to current Soviet discrimination. The decades closed with one of the most celebrated films about Jewish life ever to reach the screen – Fiddler on the Roof (1971). Based on sholem aleichem , the film exposed millions around the world to Jewish family life, Jewish traditions, and the shtetl. In the 1970s and 1980s, in such films as Play It Again Sam (1972), Annie Hall (1977), and Manhattan (1979), woody allen became the embodiment of an urban Jewish humor-filled sensibility, and of a seeming nebbish who won the girl (who was often non-Jewish). The other major comedies of this era focus once again on domestic life, some with a nostalgic look towards the past; others with a derisive look at the present. Films include My Favorite Year (1982), Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1987), and Radio Days (1987). Meanwhile Jewish women began to have their say in films such as The Way We Were (1973), starring Barbra Streisand; Hester Street (written and directed by joan micklin silver ); and Girlfriends (1978, written and directed by Claudia Weill). Jewish women came to the fore with great strength, in large measure due to women's participation in production. Beginning with Private Benjamin (1980), co-produced and starring goldie hawn as the Jewish American Princess who finally grows into an autonomous woman, Jewish women are admirably depicted in Tell Me a Riddle (1980), Baby, It's You (1983), Hanna K (1983), Yentl (1983), St. Elmo's Fire (1985), Sweet Lorraine (1987), and Dirty Dancing (1987). Among the Jewish women active in film as directors, screenwriters, and producers were: Barbra Streisand, Susan Seidelman, Claudia Weill, lee grant , Joan Micklin Silver, Gail Parent, and sherry lansing (who would go on to be chairman of Paramount). The 1970s also introduced many new types: the Jewish gambler (The Gambler, 1974), the Jewish madam (For Pete's Sake, 1974), blacklisted artists (The Front, 1976), the Jewish gumshoe (The Big Fix, 1976), the Jewish lesbian (A Different Story, 1978), a Yiddish cowboy (The Frisco Kid, 1979), a Jewish union organizer (Norma Rae, 1979), a Jewish murderess (The Last Embrace, 1979), and an elderly Jew pushed to violence (Boardwalk, 1979). The Frisco Kid deserves special mention. Despite its high comedy, the film is one of the few Hollywood works to treat Jewish values as a serious topic. Briefly stated, the film shows the confrontation between talmudic piety and American pragmatism, as personified by characters played by gene wilder and harrison ford , as the two influenced each other as Jew met Gentile in the New Land. For the rest of the 20th Century Jews assumed a wide variety of roles. From the romantic, such as billy crystal in When Harry met Sally to non-Jewish Ian McKellen as the evil Holocaust survivor Dr. Magneto in X-Men (2000), Jewish actors and Jews on screen took on a democratic smorgasbord of roles. Jewish leading men continue to be few and far between but a new crop of handsome young and versatile actors such as ben stiller , Jason Schwartzman, adam sandler , and David Duchovny continue to redefine Jewish actors on the screen. In other areas, some things never change. Just as the non-Jewish Natalie Wood played Marjorie Morningstar, in the romantic comedy from Nancy Meyers, Something's Got to Give (2003), Diane Keaton is featured as playing a Jewish woman and Frances McDormand as her sister. Regarding the Holocaust as a subject for Hollywood, prior to the 1980s, the Shoah was mainly used as a backdrop from which to create thrillers such as The Odessa File (1974), Marathon Man (1976), and The Boys from Brazil (1978). Only The Man in the Glass Booth (1975), based on a stage play, stands apart. However, after the successful 1978 TV broadcast of the mini-series The Holocaust, a proliferation of Holocaust-themed or related films were made, most notably Schindler's List (1993). Finally, the beginning of the 21st century has been witness to a landmark event: the release of the first animated Chanukah feature-length movie, Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights. Sandler's appeal is his endearing cretin-savant aesthetic: although his mind may be trapped in adolescence, his heart inevitably is in the right place. In sum, 100 years after the start of the movie industry, the landscape is much changed. Born in America, the second, third, and fourth generation of Jews in Hollywood were raised during a time when institutional antisemitism had all but disappeared and where assimilation was not so much a goal as a norm. The melting pot has given way to the multicultural quilt – and religious choice is as varied as the combo plates on a Chinese menu. Jewish actors and directors continue to work in Hollywood making a diverse selection of studio and independent films. They no longer need to hide their religion or ethnicity but they are free to make movies on any subject, Christmas included. Hollywood belongs to no religion – save a corporate one. The most marked change in the motion picture industry is one regarding ownership. The last several decades of the 20th century has seen tremendous change and consolidation in the motion picture industry. There are almost no truly independent studios, and the studios once owned by Jews are now part of international conglomerates and publicly traded companies. Warner Brothers was acquired by Time-Warner and in 2006 includes such former mini-major studios as New Line and Castle Rock; Disney is a public company that includes the Miramax independent film label and ABC television networks; Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.; Columbia by the Japanese conglomerate Sony; Universal was sold to Matsushita, then to edgar bronfman 's Seagram, then to the French utility Vivendi, and then to General Electric which has also acquired the NBC television network. Paramount is owned by Viacom and, as of January 1, 2006, is part of a company that also includes MTV networks. stephen spielberg , Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen launched their own studio in 1994, DREAMWORKS SKG. Although they produced such successful movies as Shrek, Collateral, Seabiscuit, and Minority Report, among others, they could not remain independent. They spun off Dreamworks Animation as a public company, and at the end of 2005 they concluded an agreement to sell Dreamworks' movie division to Paramount. The first generation of Jewish movie moguls owned the studios. On the business side, adding to Hollywood's reputation as a Jewish industry was the fact that many of the talent agencies were founded and staffed by Jews – to mention a few: William Morris (founded by William Morris); MCA, led by Lew Wasserman and Jules Stein; International Creative Management (ICM), managed by Marvin Josephson, and in 2006 by Jeff Berg. One of the most powerful Hollywood agencies was founded by William Morris defectors michael ovitz , Ron Meyer, and Bill Haber. CAA is led in 2006 by Richard Lovett. One of the newer agencies is Endeavor, whose founders include Ari Emmanuel. At the beginning of the 21st century, by contrast, the studios are owned by corporations and controlled in great part by non-Jews. A great many Jewish people have continued to work in Hollywood as executives, agents, and attorneys. They are involved at every level in the creative decisions affecting the movies made in America and seen the world over. But increasingly, they are making those decisions with their eyes on a mass audience and for corporate masters concerned with the bottom line, profits and stock performance. So although there are many Jewish executives, they are merely employees, serving at the whim of the marketplace and their masters. In this light, it is legitimate to wonder: can the movie industry still be considered Jewish? (Tom Teicholz (2nd ed.) Yiddish films were made in the U.S. from the 1920s. These films, for all their bathos, were a uniquely authentic expression. Although provincial and stylized, they reflected and preserved a Jewish way of life, stressing the unity of the Jewish people, traditional values, belief in human goodness, the triumph of justice, respect for education, and the ideal of the happy family nucleus. The success of Yiddish shorts in Jewish neighborhoods in the late 1930s led to the production of full-length features. The stars of the Yiddish theater, such as Maurice Schwartz, Boris Thomashevsky, and Celia Alder, participated in these films, which were heavily melodramatic and sentimental. The films have a "happy ending" often with a family reconciliation. Religious ceremonies were often portrayed as part of the action. Some of the films were adapted from Yiddish stage classics, such as Hirschbein's Green Fields and Gordin's Mirele Efros. Serious Yiddish film-making ended in the U.S. at the same time as it was being brought to an end in Poland. The decline of the Yiddish theater in the 1930s in the U.S. was paralleled by a similar trend in the Yiddish cinema. After 1940, the only Yiddish films being produced were made up of vaudeville acts taken from the "Borscht Belt," the chain of Jewish hotels in the Catskill Mountains hosting vaudeville acts. These, too, dried up within a few years. The end of the Yiddish cinema was inevitable with the disappearance of Yiddish as a spoken language in the younger generation. Moreover, even where the language was still spoken, the naiveté of the Yiddish films had no appeal to an acculturated and sophisticated public. (Geoffrey Wigoder) -In Britain Although the proportion of Jews involved in films was much smaller than in America, they made a significant contribution to the British film industry and were among its pioneers. For a long period, American competition made it impossible for the British motion picture to gain a foothold in the world market. It was a Hungarian Jew, Sir alexander korda , who finally pulled the British industry out of the doldrums. Korda had been a pioneer of film making in Hungary and after World War I had worked in Austria, Germany, France, and Hollywood. In 1930 he moved to Britain and founded the London Films Company, for which he directed and produced some of the best films credited to Britain in the 1930s and the 1940s. His success was due to his fine artistic sense, his ability to build artists from different fields into a working team, and his belief that by employing great British actors and choosing the proper subjects, the British film could be adapted to suit the American market. His greatest success as a director was The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), in which he punctured the formal rigidity associated with royalty; he had other successes in The Private Life of Don Juan and in Rembrandt. His greatest achievements were as the producer of such films as The Scarlet Pimpernel, Catherine the Great, Elephant Boy, Lady Hamilton, and The Third Man, which established Britain's reputation for fine films. His brother, Zoltan Korda, also worked for London Films as a successful director. Sir michael balcon , who was initially in charge of Alfred Hitchcock's British films, earned his reputation after World War II managing the operations of Ealing Studios. This company created the series of comedies (known as the "Ealing Comedies") that depict the eccentric British character with subtle humor and irony (such films as Kind Hearts and Coronets, Whisky Galore, and The Ladykillers). Another outstanding producer was Harry Saltzman, a partner in the James Bond series; he later produced mainly war films and, from time to time, low-budget artistic films. Anatole de Grunwald also was a producer of note. A noted young director was John Schlesinger, who was responsible for such films as Billy Liar, Darling, and Midnight Cowboy. Among the outstanding British film actors were leslie howard , elizabeth bergner (who moved from Germany in the 1930s, as did Anton Walbrook), claire bloom , Yvonne Mitchell, laurence harvey , and peter sellers . (Nahman Ingber) -In France What is a Jewish film? A film that is produced by a Jewish producer? A film that is made by a Jewish director? A film that has a Jewish theme? One may more specifically ask this question about France, for until the 1950s characters were not identified in French movies by religious or ethnic affiliation. However, after World War II it was impossible to ignore the Jewish presence in France, or the Holocaust. In 1937, Jean Renoir directed La grande illusion ("The Great Illusion"), a pacifist film which depicts a group of French prisoners during World War I. One of them, Rosenthal, is a stereotyped nouveau riche Jew who, however, stands by his friends. At the end of the film, one of these friends, played by Jean Gabin, let's the cat out of the bag. "I never could stand Jews\!" he says. This cutting remark and Rosenthal's ambivalent portrait brought accusations of antisemitism against Renoir. The controversy itself shows all the ambiguity of the Jews' situation in French society, for Rosenthal is generous and human. In his next film, La règle du jeu ("The Rules of the Game," 1938), the subtle and grand figure of the host goes under the name La Chesnay, but it is clearly said that he is of Jewish origin. It is significant that Marcel Dalio played both these parts. He was himself a Jew and had to leave France in 1940. The cliché about Jews who wish to believe they are accepted in French society is also the main theme of Julien Duvivier's David Golder (1931), from Irène Nemirovsky's book. After becoming wealthy, David Goldet is despised by his wife and daughter; he ends his days as a ruined and lonely old man. Unlike Renoir's films, David Goldet is undoubtedly antisemitic, echoing all the physical and psychological stereotypes spread by France's extreme right in the 1930s. From the 1950s, documentaries – made from archives or from witness interviews – shed new light on the Jews' lot in French society during World War II. Thus in Nuit et Brouillard ("Night and Fog," 1955) by Alain Resnais, in Le temps du ghetto ("The Ghetto Time," 1968) by Frederic Rossif, Le chagrin et la pitié ("Distress and Compassion," 1971) by Marcel Ophuls, Français si vous saviez ("French Citizens, If Only You Knew," 1973) by André Harris and Alain de Sédouy, French eyes were opened to the realities of French society and the behavior of French politicians toward Jews under the German occupation. In other respects, at the same time Frederic Rossif and Claude Lanzmann made documentaries about Israel. Some Jewish film makers were interested in making semi-autobiographical films on this period as well. These include Claude Berri (Le vieil homme et l'enfant, "The Old Man and the Boy," 1957), Henri Glaeser (Une larme dans l'océan,"A Tear in the Ocean," 1973), and Jacques Doillon (Un sacde billes, "A Bag of Marbles," 1976, from Joseph Joffo's book). Others produced stories in the context of collaboration: Le dernier métro ("The Last Subway," 1980) by François Truffaut tells the story of a Jewish director in Paris who hides in a cellar. Conversely, Lacombe Lucien (1974) by Louis Malle – from patrick modiano 's book – absolves the hero from responsibility (he becomes a militiaman by chance) and depicts Jews as passive victims. Some years later, Malle made Au revoir lesenfants ("Good Bye, Children"), which expressed feelings of guilt about the persecution of Jewish children. In 2005, La maison de Nina ("Nina's House") by Richard Dembo told the story of young survivors of the Nazi camps. Several documentaries have been made with survivors: La mémoire est-elle soluble dans l'eau? ("Is Memory Soluble in Water?" 1995) by Charles Najman and La petite maison dans la forêt de bouleaux ("The Little House in the Birch-Tree Forest," 2003) by Marceline Loridan. One must mention too Emmanuel Finkiel's work, especially Voyages (1999), dealing with the memory of the Holocaust, moving on, and Jewish identity in the Diaspora and Israel. There have also been comedies with popular actors like Louis de Funès and Roger Hanin. Their humor and optimism as they show reconciliation among people made them successful films. Such films are Les aventures de Rabbi Jacob ("Rabbi Jacob's Adventures," 1973) by Gérard Oury, Le coup de sirocco ("Gust of Sirocco," 1979), Le Grand Pardon ("Yom Kippur," 1982), and Le grand carnaval ("The Great Carnival," 1985), the last three by Alexandre Arcady. La vérité si je mens ("Damn It If I'm Lying," 1996) by Thomas Gilou gives Jewish humor a different perspective with a Sephardi contribution dealing with North African Jews who settled in France from the 1960s. And claude lelouch evokes men and women of all origins who are thrown into distress by History. The most highly acclaimed of all these Jewish films was undoubtedly claude lanzmann 's masterpiece, Shoah (1985). (Annie Goldmann (2nd ed.) -In Germany As in the United States, the impetus to produce films catering to popular taste in Germany came from Jewish owners of a chain of theaters. In 1913 Paul Davidson and Hermann Fellner, who had been exhibiting films since 1905, established their own production company and made films based on German folklore and legend, as well as comedies (it was for this company that Ernst Lubitsch made his early films). In 1919 Erich Pommer directed the Deutsches Eclair (Decla) film company, which some time later merged with UFA, a company that produced outstanding German films in the 1920s and the early 1930s. Pommer remained at the head of the company and determined the style and quality of the films in this period. He went in for daring artistic experiments and provided ample opportunity for talented film people to prove their mettle. As a result, the German film became the most advanced of its time; this was, in fact, the golden age of the German film industry. Lubitsch began his career with a series of comedies (some of them against a Jewish background) and then turned to the direction of light-hearted historical films. His overwhelming success resulted in his being invited to the United States. Another film produced by Pommer, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which became a prestigious success for the German cinema, was written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. In general, Jews made a great contribution to the German cultural life in the 1920s and participated in the avant-garde artistic experimentation of this period. The painter Hans Richter produced experimental and abstract films and was a pioneer of this genre. The leading German-Jewish film director was fritz lang , whose films are a marvelous portrayal of the social and cultural atmosphere prevailing in Germany at the time. They include Der muede Tod ("The Weary Death"), based on a medieval legend; two films based on the Nibelungen saga; two terror films; Metropolis, sharply critical of various aspects of industrial society; and M, the story of the Duesseldorf child murderer, which was Lang's last German film. When Hitler came to power, the Jews working for the German film industry were forced to flee the country. Most of them found their way to Hollywood, others to London, Paris, and Prague. -In Poland Before the rise of the Jewish state, Poland was the only country that offered possibilities for the development of a Jewish film industry. Attempts to create a Jewish film tradition began before World War I, when film versions were made of the plays of jacob gordin . Mark Tovbin, a pioneer in the field, filmed Mirele Efros with Esther Rachel kaminska in the title role and other members of her family in the cast. Nahum Lipovski filmed Gordin's play Hasa die Yesoeme ("Hasa the Orphan") with Esther Lipovska as the orphan. It was not until the 1920s, however, that attempts at making films were resumed. In 1924 Leah Farber worked with Henrik Baum, as scenario writer, on producing films on Yiddish folk themes. Among them was Tkies-Kaf ("The Hand Contract"), based on a legend similar to that of The Dybbuk, directed by Zygmunt turkow , who also played the role of Elijah. Other roles were played by Esther Rachel Kaminska, her daughter Ida, and her granddaughter Ruth Turkow, then a child. In 1927 the same company filmed another legendary story, Der Lamedvovnik ("One of the Thirty-Six"), by H. Baum, starring Jonas turkow and directed by Henryk Shara (Shapira). In 1929 a company known as Forbert – after Leo Forbert, the first Jewish film producer after the war – filmed a version of Josef opatoshu 's novel In the Polish Woods, with H. Baum as screenwriter, Jonas Turkow as director, and Dina Blumenfeld and Silver Rich in the leading roles. The first Yiddish talking pictures were made in 1932, when Itzhak and Shaul Goskind formed a company known as Sektor and made documentaries of the Jewish communities in Warsaw, Lodz, Vilna, Lvov, Cracow, and Bialystok and then undertook popular productions with S. Dzigan and I. Szumacher. They produced Al Khet, with screenplay by the writer Israel Moshe Neiman, directed by A. Marten, with Rachel Holtzer and A. Morewski in the leading roles; Un'a Heim ("Without a Home," by A. Kacyzne), directed by Alexander Marten, with Ida Kaminska and the Dzigan-Szumacher partnership; and Freylikhe Kabtsonim ("The Merry Beggars"), a story by moshe broderzon , with Zygmunt Turkow, Dzigan-Szumacher and Ruth Turkow in the cast. They also did a documentary called Mir Kumen On ("We're on the Way"), directed by Alexander Ford. Ford also did Sabra (1933). Films of distinction were Josef Green's productions Yidlmit'n Fidl, lyrics by itzik manger , starring molly picon ; Mammele, also starring Molly Picon; Purim Shpiler, with Z. Turkow, Anya Liton, L. Samberg, and Miriam Kressin (screenplays by Konrad Tam) and A Brivele der Mammen, written by M. Osherowitz (screenplay by A. Kacyzne) and directed by L. Tristan. This was the last Yiddish film made in Poland before the outbreak of World War II. Leo-Film did a talking version of Tkies-Kaf in 1937 with scenario by H. Baum, direction by Henrik Shara, and Z. Turkow as Elijah. an-sky 's Dybbuk was also filmed in 1937, with a scenario by Katzisne, direction by Michal Vashiasky, and a cast including A. Morewski, Isaac Samberg, Moshe Lipman, Lili Liliana, and L. Leo Libgold. After World War II a cooperative, "Kinor," for Yiddish-speaking films was organized in Lodz by Shaul Goskind and Joseph Goldberg. From 1946 until 1950 two full-length films and about 12 shorts were produced including Unzere Kinder, which was made with Niusia Gold, Dzigan-Szumacher, and orphans from Alenuwek (Lodz). In 1951 "Kinor" was liquidated and the members left, mostly for Israel. The Polish State Film produced a work on the Warsaw Ghetto, Ulica Graniczna ("Border Street"), directed by A. Ford. Subsequently, several documentaries were made in Yiddish by American producers. Post-World War II films artists who did not specifically deal with Jewish themes were Alexander Ford (later in Israel) and Roman Polanski (who settled in the U.S. in the 1960s). -In the U.S.S.R. Jews also took a large part in the motion picture industry in the U.S.S.R. Foremost among them was sergei eisenstein , the great genius of the Soviet cinema, whose contribution to the progress made by motion pictures probably exceeds that of any other single film artist. His films, including Battleship, Strike, Alexander, Old and New, October, Potemkin, Ivan the Terrible (1 and 2), and Alexander Nevski, are still regarded as high achievements of the motion picture art and are studied by scholars and artists alike. His theories on the cinematic art, published in several volumes, remain an outstanding expression of motion picture aesthetics. The formalist experiments made by Eisentein in the 1920s provoked the ire of the Soviet authorities and caused him great hardship throughout the 1930s and 1940s; the controversy over Ivan the Terrible shortly preceded his death. Other Jews who entered the Soviet motion picture industry in the 1920s were Friedrich Ermler, Abraham Room, Mikhail Romm, Juli Raizman, Leonid Trauberg, Esther Schub, and L.O. Arnshtam. They sought formal solutions to the artistic problems encountered, and when socialist realism became the prescribed doctrine, they were forced to compromise with the new conditions. A noted Jewish director was Dziga Vertov, a native of Poland, whose real name was Denis Kaufman and whose brother, Boris Kaufman, was a well-known American cameraman. In 1924 Vertov propounded the theory of Kino-Glas ("Cinema-Eye"): Kino-Glas films were made outside the studio without actors, set, or a script. "They are written by the camera in the purest scine-language, and are completely visual." Vertov became the father of the documentary film, and his newsreels, "kino pravda," were the forerunners of cinéma-verité. A number of Jewish directors were also active in the 1930s, including Yosif Heifitz and Alexander Zarkhy (who worked as a team for some time), Yosef Olshanski (also a scriptwriter), Samson Samsonov, and Yakov Segal. Yiddish motion pictures flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, centering on the great Yiddish actor shlomo mikhoels (who was later murdered during the Stalin purges), whose outstanding films were King Lear and Menahem Mendel. -Other European Countries In other countries of Eastern Europe Jewish motion picture directors came to the fore after World War II, when film production first entered a serious phase of development. In Czechoslovakia Jan Kádar directed Shop on Main Street, and Milos Forman earned his reputation with such comedies as Peter and Pavla, Firemen's Ball, and Loves of a Blonde. A Swedish director named Mauritz Stiller became famous in the 1910s and 1920s for the style, humor, and aesthetic feeling of his films. His claim to fame now rests on his discovery of Greta Garbo, whom he accompanied to the United States where he died soon after his arrival. (Nahman Ingber) For Israel, see israel , State of: Cultural Life (Film). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Ramsaye, A Million and One Nights, A History of the Motion Picture (1964); E. Goodman, The Fifty-Year Decline and Fall of Hollywood (1961); R. Griffith and A. Mayer, The Movies: The Sixty-Year Story of the World Hollywood and its Effects on America, from the pre-Nickelodeon Days to the Present (1957); B.B. Hampton, History of the Movies (1930); Y. Harel, Ha-Kolno'a me-Reshito ve-ad Ha-Yom (1956), 216–40; N. Ingber, in: Ha-Ummah, 5 (1966), 246–61; Omanut ha-Kolno'a, 28 (1963), 5–15. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Hoberman and J. Shandler, Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting (2003); A. Insdorf, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust (20033); T. Teicholz, "Dreaming of a Blue and White Christmas," in: Jewish Journal of Los Angeles and www.tommywood.com (Dec 26, 2003).
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.