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Author Topic: Gentleman's Agreement (1947)  (Read 2602 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: April 12, 2012, 02:06:59 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039416/

Gentleman's Agreement  (1947)  8/10

Cast (courtesy of imdb)


Gregory Peck    ...   Philip Schuyler Green
    Dorothy McGuire    ...   Kathy Lacy
    John Garfield    ...   Dave Goldman
    Celeste Holm    ...   Anne Dettrey
    Anne Revere    ...   Mrs. Green
    June Havoc    ...   Elaine Wales
    Albert Dekker    ...   John Minify
    Jane Wyatt    ...   Jane
    Dean Stockwell    ...   Tommy Green
    Nicholas Joy    ...   Dr. Craigie
    Sam Jaffe    ...   Professor Fred Lieberman
    Harold Vermilyea    ...   Lou Jordan
    Ransom M. Sherman    ...   Bill Payson


PLot Synopsis: Gregory Peck plays a magazine writer who is given an assignment to do a series on the topic of Anti-Semitism. He pretends to be a Jew so that he can discover firsthand the true nature and effects of anti-semitism.

This was the second of two movies to be released in 1947 on the topic of anti-Semitism, which until that time had never been mentioned in movies. The other movie was Crossfire; in the Crossfire thread, we discussed extensively the groundbreaking nature of this topic in 1947, so I think it is appropriate to link to that topic here, if anyone wants to take a look at that discussion http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=11184.0

This movie won 3 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm).
It was nominated for another 5 Oscars: Best Lead Actor (Gregory Peck); Best Lead Actress (Dorothy McGuire); Best Supporting Actress (Ann Revere); Best Film Editing, and Best Screenplay.
 (It won 3 Golden Globes, in the same categories as the Oscar wins. Additionally, Dean Stockwell, who delivered a fantastic performance as Peck's young son, won a Special Golden Globe for Best Juvenile Actor).

This movie is far better than Crossfire.

In the Crossfire topic, we discussed the issue of racism against blacks in America at that time, and how that is not mentioned in that movie. In Gentleman's Agreement, it is briefly alluded to: when Peck is speaking against use of certain despicable racist terms, one of those he singles out is the N-word.

Many people involved in Gentleman's Agreement would soon wind up with problems with the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, be forced to testify, and in some cases be blacklisted. Interestingly, Edward Dmytryk, the director of Crossfire also had issues with HUAAC (I believe he was ultimately jailed for contempt of Congress and blacklisted as well, though i don't recall if anyone else involved in Crossfire was involved with HUAAC). So the two movies that dealt with the then-groundbreaking issue of persecution based on beliefs were made by people who would soon thereafter be persecuted for their own beliefs. (To be sure, I am in no way equating Communism and Judaism: I have no use for Communism whatsoever; but my point is that it is just as wrong to persecute someone for their political beliefs as it is to persecute someone for their religious beliefs).

One small mistake this movie mistakes: one of the supposedly racist words that the movie denounces is the word "Yid." In fact, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that word: it is the Yiddish word for "Jew," and in fact is the word used by Jews to say "Jew," and is no more racist than is the word "Catholic" or "Protestant." Perhaps anti-Semites use that term in a derogatory manner, and maybe that is why the screenwriters thought it was a racist term, but in fact there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that word.

Overall, my feeling when watching this movie is that the world sure has changed in the past 65 years, as far as what is discussed publicly. I don't know whether or not individual hearts and minds are different than they were then, but it is incredible to think about how a topic such as this one, which is discussed so openly today, would be so groundbreaking 65 years ago.

If you get the dvd, the special features has a very good "making of" piece.

« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 03:47:25 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 08:11:47 PM »

In no way does this dated, silly movie compare to Crossfire, which is good in spite of its Kramer-y preachy vibe. Crossfire actually has other things going for it - a good pace, good B&W visuals and a top notch cast. Gentleman's Agreement is the Crash of its day. The pacing is horrendous, and the premise itself is silly.

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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2012, 09:14:46 PM »

In no way does this dated, silly movie compare to Crossfire, which is good in spite of its Kramer-y preachy vibe. Crossfire actually has other things going for it - a good pace, good B&W visuals and a top notch cast. Gentleman's Agreement is the Crash of its day. The pacing is horrendous, and the premise itself is silly.

Generally, I think it's kind of hard to judge the theme/message of either of these movies today because we aren't living in the times when that that topic was considered groundbreaking. Sure, you can judge all the other aspects of the movie (acting, pacing, etc.) but I hesitate to judge the message cuz I can't relate to those times.

On a more general note: people very often use the term "dated" in a derogatory manner, and I think it is often unfair. Movies are released for their times -- especially in the pre-home video days, when it was thought that a movie would be viewed for a few months in theaters, and then basically never seen again. (Once televsion came out, perhaps it would be viewed for a few more years on television). So if a movie was indeed great in its time, I wouldn't criticize it for being "dated."
This is just a general point I am making; I think the term "dated" is used to often as a cheap, easy, and unfair criticism.

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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2012, 02:23:24 AM »

Yes movies were released for their time, but we watch them today. Apart from a mere historical view on a film it is totally irrelevant what an impact a film had when it was released.

If I watch older films now, they must have stand for me the test of time, and if a film doesn't I don't care how much it was important back then.

So if a film was conceived for an audience of the 40s, and has a content, or a way to present a content, which isn't interesting any more, it is simply a dated film.
Some old films are heavily dated for me today (On the Waterfront), and are sometimes nearly unwatchable , others seem as fresh as ever (The Rules of the Game, Touch of Evil), while others are still a pleasure if watched with a certain nostalgia (the Flynn / Curtiz actioners)

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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2012, 07:04:16 AM »

Yes movies were released for their time, but we watch them today. Apart from a mere historical view on a film it is totally irrelevant what an impact a film had when it was released.

If I watch older films now, they must have stand for me the test of time, and if a film doesn't I don't care how much it was important back then.

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« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2012, 07:13:47 PM »

Stanton nailed it.

I forgot to state that Crossfire doesn't rely on its preachiness or morality; while GA does.

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« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2012, 09:35:08 PM »


I forgot to state that Crossfire doesn't rely on its preachiness or morality; while GA does.

That scene in Crossfire where the Irish cop gives the speech to the Southern soldier is painful to watch.

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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2012, 09:40:57 PM »

Yes movies were released for their time, but we watch them today. Apart from a mere historical view on a film it is totally irrelevant what an impact a film had when it was released.

If I watch older films now, they must have stand for me the test of time, and if a film doesn't I don't care how much it was important back then.


I am not saying you should watch a film you don't enjoy just because it was groundbreaking in its day.

All I am saying is that I would be careful before criticizing a movie that did have a particularly important meaning in its day, just because that meaning may seem less important today.

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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2012, 02:26:33 AM »

And I say criticize it for being not important any more. I can notice that it had once an importance, But this doesn't make a film better than one which was already bad then.
Films change over the years, some for good some for bad.

And the other way round, will you now be careful with praising Leone's films because you have to consider that they were mostly bashed in the 60s?

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2014, 03:58:01 AM »

Obviously, movies with messages about racism don't seem very relevant today. It's not that nobody's a racist today, it's just that I'm generally not interested in watching a movie about racism. Heck, I'm generally not interested in watching a movie with any message. Sure, there are some message films I like (whether or not I agree with the message - Inherit the Wind is one example); but I don't like them because of their message; I may like them just for entertainment, like I may like the acting or whatever.

So, I just enjoyed Gentleman's Agreement a lot more than I enjoyed Crossfire.... (and btw, if you are gonna criticize Gentleman's Agreement for being dated, I don't see how you can't say the same about Crossfire.... the same way you may like Crossfire for reasons other than its message eg. the acting, the noir stylistics, whatever some other people, like me, may like Gentleman's Agreement for reasons other than its message, too..... In any movie, story is just one element; there are so many other elements one can like or dislike about a movie. Similarly, with "message films," there's a lot one can like or dislike about the movie besides the message.

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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2014, 07:57:17 AM »

I'm not exactly a fan of Crossfire, so I don't gainsay your point there.

Quote
with "message films," there's a lot one can like or dislike about the movie besides the message.

In principle I agree. A movie can certainly espouse a "message," even put it front and center, and be very, very good. Basil Dearden's Victim comes to mind, not to mention European political cinema like Battle of Algiers or Z. The problem with a lot of message films (especially those by Mr. Kramer) is there is little but the message on offer. Since you mention it, Inherit the Wind has good acting but the entire show is didactic windbaggery. Not a lot of cinematic virtues or dramatic value to consider, really. That is what people (myself included) tend to object to.

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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2014, 01:48:51 PM »

Yes, INHERIT THE WIND was as "message" as they come. Not only does this movie advocate for a position I disagree with, but it also argues that anyone that takes an opposing position is an imbecile, narrow-minded, old-fashioned, can't think for themselves, just following a crowd of jackasses, walks around all day chanting "old time religion," and just an overall dumbass. NEVERTHELESS, i thought there was great acting, lots of the scenes were hilarious (even when they were foolishly promoting caricatures) - I basically enjoyed it for the comedy, and I believe I ultimately gave it an 8.5/10 rating... Of course, not every message picture is as well-made as ITW. And when a message picture is NOT well-made, it's doubly annoying cuz of the preaching, whether you agree with the message or not..... But when discussing a message picture, I think there's plenty to discuss other than the message (unless you're talking about a Michael Moore documentary, which is like watching a talk show on MSNBC ;-)


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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2016, 11:44:34 PM »

Just saw Crossfire Again. Liked it a lot more than the first time around. Definitely a better movie than Gentleman's Agreement

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