Gentleman’s Agreement Part 3: Bibliography and Pledge

Posted in 2008hist329 on November 11th, 2008 by kokoro

Bibliography:

Bronski, Michael. “Remembering Gregory Peck, and a Not So Gentlemanly Agreement.” Forward, June 20, 2003. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

“By the Flank.” Time.com, January 15, 1945. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,775364,00.html (accessed November 8, 2008).

Crowther, Bosley. “Anti-Semitism Assaulted Boldly on the Screen.” New York Times, November 16, 1947. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Crowther, Bosley. “‘ Gentleman’s Agreement,’ Study of Anti-Semitism, Is Feature at Mayfair — Gregory Peck Plays Writer Acting as Jew.” New York Times, November 12, 1947. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

“Display Ad 18 — No Title.” The Washington Post, April 13, 1947. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Fishgall, Gary. Gregory Peck: A Biography. New York: Scriber, 2002.

“Film Critics Hold ‘Agreement’ Best:Hollywood Picture Wins Out Over ‘Great Expectations’ by 2 Votes on 6 Ballots William Powell Honored He Tops Actors, Deborah Kerr Leads Actresses and Elia Kazan Heads Directors.” New York Times, December 30, 1947, http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Gabler, Neal. An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1988.

Gentleman’s Agreement, directed by Elia Kazan, 20th Century Fox, 1947.

Kaplan, Lewis A. “The House Un-American Activities Committee and its Opponents: A Study in Congressional Dissonance.” The Journal of Politics 20, no. 3 (August 1968): 647-671, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2128799 (accessed November 8, 2008).

Kaplan, Ron. “Historic ‘Agreement’.” Jewish News, January 3, 2008. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Langdon, Jennifer E. Caught in the Crossfire: Adrian Scott and the Politics of Americanism
in 1940s Hollywood
. Columbia University Press, 2008. http://www.gutenberg-e.org/langdon/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Lewis, Jon. “’We Do Not Ask You to Condone This’: How the Blacklist Saved Hollywood.” Cinema Journal 39, no.2 (Winter 2000): 3-30, http://www.jstor.org/pss/1225550 (accessed November 8, 2008).

Lipkin, Steven N. “Real Emotional Logic: Persuasive Strategies in Docudrama.” Cinema Journal 38, no. 4 (Summer 1999): 68-85. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1225663 (accessed November 8, 2008).

Michael, Robert. A Concise History of American Antisemitism. Landam, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publisher’s, Inc., 2005.

More, Deborah Dash. “Jewish GIs and the Creation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition.” Religion and American Culture 8, no. 1 (Winter 1998): 31-53. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/stable/pdfplus/1123913.pdf (accessed November 8, 2008).

Poore, Charles. “Books of the Times.” New York Times, February 27, 1947. http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Shapiro, Edward S. A Time of Healing: American Jewry Since World War II. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Schickler, Eric, and Andrew Rich. “Controlling the Floor: Parties as Procedural Coalitions in the House.” American Journal of Political Science 41, no. 4 (October 1997): 1340-1375, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2960492 (accessed November 8, 2000).

Sorin, Gerald. Tradition Transformed: The Jewish Experience in America. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

“Will Soldier’s Vote?” Time.com, Febuary 14, 1944. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,885334,00.html (accessed November 8, 2008).

Pledge:

I pledge the work for my project on Gentleman’s Agreement. –Taylor Brann

Gentleman’s Agreement Part 2: Analysis

Posted in 2008hist329 on November 11th, 2008 by kokoro

Poster from http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/filmnotes/gentlemansagreement.html

Gentleman’s Agreement was one of the first films to deal directly with anti-Semitism. It primarily examines a more covert, subtle kind of bigotry that sometimes exists in people without them even realizing it. The movie depicts and discusses the social discrimination against Jews on several levels, including exclusion from employment and housing, as well as the verbal abuse most often expressed between children. There is also the subject of Jewish self-loathing, often expressed by film moguls themselves, in which the more successful Jews disparage those who haven’t made it or “make it harder for the rest of us.” Phil’s Jewish secretary, who has been on the end of employment discrimination, expresses dislike towards “the kikey ones who cause trouble” [33]. Gentleman’s Agreement truly pushed the envelope in 1947, when ten years prior to the film the word “Jew” couldn’t be uttered on the screen [34].

While the movie does many things right, there are several fair critiques that can be made against it. In the movie, as in the book, Phil’s investigation of anti-Semitism is limited to the upper-crust Northeastern society. He does not go much further than experiencing petty snubs from rich people, and as a result he does not search for the roots of racism or see the violence and hatred that arises from anti-Semitism. Another issue, as described by New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther, regards the protagonist’s extreme naivety, “it is amazing that the writer who undertakes this probe should be so astonished to discover that anti-Semitism is cruel” [35].

There is also an issue with the premise of Phil disguising himself as a Jew. For one, the story is not as strong with a Gentile “passing” as a Jew as it could be with a Jewish main character. More importantly, the movie suggests that there is “no difference” between Gentiles and Jews, which removes the history, experience, and identity of Jewish culture and inadvertently supports ultra-assimilation of Jews. The message of the movie can also be confused as a result of Phil’s undercover investigation. As one critic put it, the moral of the story is that you should never be rude to a Jew because he might turn out to be a Gentile [36].

Though Gentleman’s Agreement remains a strong human drama, it’s relevance as a social film has waned. Even the director Elia Kazan has distanced himself from the movie, calling it “the perfect example of that day’s ‘liberal’ films,” as well as “patronizing” [37]. Nevertheless, despite its issues and datedness, the larger issues of bigotry and hatred expressed in Gentleman’s Agreement remain problems today. No doubt, discrimination and segregation are less common (or less apparent) in America today, but hatred based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion persists. Perhaps the most important lesson of the movie is that bigotry does not only exist in cross burning, bald headed, hate crime perpetrating extremists. It also exists in the nicest, most ordinary people who perpetuate hatred simply by refusing to speak against it.

Gentleman’s Agreement trailer from Youtube:[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/iJBFAKP8jmY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

I want to end with a quote I found particularly striking from Phil’s mother, Mrs. Green:

You know something, Phil? I suddenly want to live to be very old. Very. I want to be around to see what happens. The world is stirring in very strange ways. Maybe this is the century for it. Maybe that’s why it’s so troubled. Other centuries had their driving forces. What will ours have been when men look back? Maybe it won’t be the American century after all… or the Russian century or the atomic century. Wouldn’t it be wonderful… if it turned out to be everybody’s century… when people all over the world – free people – found a way to live together? I’d like to be around to see some of that… even the beginning. I may stick around for quite a while [38].

This quote from Mrs. Green seems like an eerie premonition in retrospect, as it was made prior to the pinnacle of the political and social unrest that plagued much of the world for the last half of the 20th century. In America, the development of youth culture, the Civil Rights movement, the Women’s liberation movement, anti-war and anti-government protests, and more all led the nation towards a freer, more equal state.

However, this quote still seems so appropriate and relevant as we enter the 21st century. Issues of war, terrorism, economic security, bigotry, and globalization continue to create unrest throughout the world. Yet, at the same time America takes a great step in electing its first African American president. So, the question still remains, what will this century be remembered for when people look back?

Footnotes:
[33] Gentleman’s Agreement, directed by Elia Kazan, 20th Century Fox, 1947.
[34] Fishgall, Gregory Peck, 126.
[35] Bosley Crowther, “‘ Gentleman’s Agreement,’ Study of Anti-Semitism, Is Feature at Mayfair — Gregory Peck Plays Writer Acting as Jew,” New York Times, November 12, 1947, http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 10, 2008).
[36] Micheal Bronski, “Remembering Gregory Peck, and a Not So Gentlemanly Agreement,” Forward, June 20, 2003, http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).
[37] Fishgall, Gregory Peck, 126.
[38] Gentleman’s Agreement, directed by Elia Kazan, 20th Century Fox, 1947.

Images/video:
[1] History Department at the University of San Diego, “Gentleman’s Agreement,” JPG file, http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/filmnotes/gentlemansagreement.html (accessed November 8, 2008).
[2] Youtube.com, “Movie Trailer— ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ (1947),” Youtube file, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJBFAKP8jmY (accessed November 8, 2008).

Gentleman’s Agreement Part 1: Context

Posted in 2008hist329 on November 11th, 2008 by kokoro

From http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare/gentlemansagreement.htm which compares the old film release to the new

Anti-Semitism has existed in America since it’s very founding. The prejudice towards Jews based on religious differences, economic jealousy, social competition, and political conflict found in Europe came with Europeans to their colonies in North America [1]. In the mid-19th century there was an influx of immigrants, including Jews, coming to America. Around this time, German Jews created relatively successful communities, while also creating and maintaining a unique Jewish cultural world [2]. They moved to the American interior, where they were often involved in commerce and business enterprises [3]. Though these Jews became more acceptable to Americans, they were denied social acceptance through exclusion from clubs, hotels, private schools, college fraternities, and neighborhoods [4]. In the last quarter of the 19th century there was an increase in American anti-Semitism, which the German Jews blamed on the influx of new immigrants from Eastern Europe [5]. Eastern European Jews flocked to Northeastern cities, particularly New York, where they often worked as laborers [6]. These urban Jews were subjected to verbal abuse, most viciously expressed between children, as well as physical violence.

Anti-Semitism continued well into the next century. In 1915, the Ku Klux Klan revived, preaching racism, anti-Communism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, and nativism as a reaction to immigration. In the 1920s, while the KKK was at its peak and employing violence to back up its ideology, the government was also passing laws to decrease the levels of immigration into the country [7]. In the 1930s, anti-Semitism continued to rise in the United States and well as in the rest of the world as a result of the Great Depression. There was a widespread belief that Jews ran the banking business and caused the stock market to crash, despite the fact that Jews actually held few positions in the business and had little influence on it [8]. At the start of World War II, anti-Semitism grew even stronger, and Jews were once again used as a scapegoat. Jews were stereotyped as warmongers and manipulators, and Americans blamed them for bringing the country into the war.

In the 1940s anti-Semitism reached its peak in America. Wartime public opinion surveys revealed that Chinese immigrants were more desirable than Jewish immigrants, and in 1940 a survey showed that over a quarter of Americans did not want to even work with Jews [9]. During the war and in the following postwar period, economic and social opportunities remained constricted for Jews. They were excluded from jobs in heavy industry, utilities, and banking, as well as from universities, and medical and law schools [10]. Even the Jewish run New York Times ran help wanted ads seeking Christians only [11]. Nevertheless, over 500,000 Jews joined the armed forces during the war [12], and though they faced discrimination, the military helped them forge confidence in themselves and create a stable self-identity [13].

While American anti-Semitism has never been as strong as anti-Semitism in Europe, American prejudices and refusal to react helped determine the fate of European Jews during the Holocaust. The government took no steps to end the suffering of European Jews, and in fact suppressed the information it learned regarding Nazi death camps [14]. Media distanced itself from the Jewish plight, and editors often stopped reporters from attempting to follow Jewish stories [15]. Perhaps the most damning of all was that many Americans believed that whatever was going on in Europe, it was the Jews themselves who were at fault [16].

Along with many Americans following the war, Jews also suburbanized and prospered; however, anti-Semitism still continued as Jews were excluded from private clubs, resorts, and cooperative apartment houses and neighborhoods [17]. Jews also came under fire from government organizations. Mississippi House representative John Rankin restored the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and set the tone and agenda of the committee [18]. Rankin, known for his racist and bigoted attacks in House meetings, insisted on a link between Judaism and Communism, and he instigated an investigation into one of the biggest Jewish industries in America, the film industry [19].

The American film industry was founded by Jews, and nearly every level of production, directing, acting, writing, and ownership and control, involved Jews [20]. All but one of the six major studios was started by Eastern European Jewish immigrants: Carl Laemmle (Universal), Adolph Zukor (Paramount), Louis B. Mayer (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner (Warner Brothers), Harry Cohn (Columbia), and David Sarnoff (RKO). All of these men grew up in destitution, were mistreated in their homeland, and grew an intense devotion towards and need to assimilate to their adopted home of America [21]. While Hollywood was often targeted for undermining traditional American values, the studio heads most wanted to be seen as American [22], and that was reflected in their products and in their self-loathing and despairing comments towards Jews [23]. Nonetheless, Hollywood Jews were forced to testify before HUAC and concede the presence of communists in the industry in order to avoid losing their American respectability [24]. In 1947, ten people, referred to as the Hollywood Ten, refused to testify and were blacklisted, fired, and jailed. Further blacklisting resulted in many entertainment professionals being barred from employment in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Poster from a John Garfield image gallery, http://themave.com/Garfield/gallery/

Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the only non-Jewish run studio, 20th Century Fox, was more willing to tackle “liberal” and controversial social issues in its productions. The late 1940s saw a series of “social problem dramas” or “documdramas.” Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, led a movement towards greater realism in film, including stories drawing on contemporary social issues [25]. While Paramount and RKO released The Lost Weekend (1945) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) which dealt with alcoholism and the problems of returning veterans, Zanuck produced The Snake Pit (1948) and Pinky (1949), which dealt with mental illness and race relations and racism, respectively. RKO also released Crossfire (1947), a well received film noir that investigates the murder of a Jewish veteran and the violence of anti-Semitism. Zanuck also felt passionately about the subject of anti-Semitism, and in 1947 he bought the film rights to Laura Z. Hobson’s book, Gentleman’s Agreement.

Hobson was inspired to write Gentleman’s Agreement after coming across an article in Time that reported on John Rankin’s anti-Semitic remarks in the House. While she was not surprised by the bigoted Rankin’s remarks, she was surprised to find that no one objected to his use slurs [26], including hateful phrases like “dirty little kike” [27]. In her novel, she examines how bigotry persists and is accepted in “polite society.” The protagonist, Phil Green, is assigned to write a magazine article on anti-Semitism. He wants to truly understand it, so he poses as a Jew in order to experience bigotry first hand. He finds that anti-Semitism and prejudice exist in places and people he never expected, including the supposedly unbigoted woman he’s fallen in love with. Hobson’s novel was critically acclaimed and was a bestseller for months [28][29].

Zanuck went to Moss Hart to write the screenplay, and he hired Elia Kazan to direct. Kazan had previously directed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and Boomerang (1947), as well as several theatre productions including The Skin of Our Teeth, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Death of a Salesman. Zanuck was approached by fellow movie moguls who did not want Hollywood to be accused on making “Jewish pictures” because it might cause more anti-Semitism. They asked him not to “rock the boat” and to shelf the movie [30]. But Zanuck wouldn’t be dissuaded from going ahead with production. Gregory Peck was eager to take on the role despite some less than enthusiastic responses from several of his fans and his agent [31]. Dorothy McGuire takes on the role of Phil’s WASPish love interest. Anne Revere and Dean Stockwell play Phil’s mother and son respectively. Celeste Holm plays Phil’s colleague and friend, and John Garfield is Phil’s best friend and a Jewish WWII veteran. The movie was well received and critically acclaimed as Fox’s top grossing film of the year [32], and in 1948 it was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress (Holm).

Footnotes:
[1] Robert Michael, A Concise History of American Antisemitism (Landam, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publisher’s, Inc., 2005), 6.
[2] Gerald Sorin, Tradition Transformed: The Jewish Experience in America (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 31.
[3] Sorin, Tradition Transformed, 105.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., 185.
[8] Michael, A Concise History of American Antisemitism, 145.
[9] Edward S. Shapiro, A Time of Healing: American Jewry Since World War II (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 3 and 44.
[10] Shapiro, A Time of Healing, 6.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid., 197.
[13] Deborah Dash More, “Jewish GIs and the Creation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition,” Religion and American Culture 8, no. 1 (Winter 1998): 31-53, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/stable/pdfplus/1123913.pdf (accessed November 8, 2008).
[14] Sorin, Tradition Transformed, 189.
[15] Michael, A Concise History of American Antisemitism, 151.
[16] Ibid., 145.
[17] Shapiro, A Time of Healing, 50.
[18] “By the Flank,” Time.com, January 15, 1945, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,775364,00.html (accessed November 8, 2008).
[19] Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1988), 356.
[20] Sorin, Tradition Transformed, 165.
[21] Gabler, An Empire of Their Own, 5.
[22] Ibid., 2.
[23] Ibid., 279.
[24] Ibid., 367.
[25] Steven N. Lipkin, “Real Emotional Logic: Persuasive Strategies in Docudrama,” Cinema Journal 38, no. 4 (Summer 1999): 68-85, http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/stable/pdfplus/1225663.pdf (accessed November 8, 2008).
[26] Gary Fishgall, Gregory Peck: A Biography (New York: Scriber, 2002), 123.
[27] “Will Soldier’s Vote?” Time.com, Febuary 14, 1944, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,885334,00.html (accessed November 8, 2008).
[28] Charles Poore, “Books of the Times,” New York Times, February 27, 1947, http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 8, 2008).
[29] “Display Ad 18 – No Title,” The Washington Post, April 13, 1947, http://www.proquest.com.ezproxy.umw.edu:2048/ (accessed November 10, 2008).
[30] Fishgall, Gregory Peck, 123.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid., 124.

Images:
[1] DVD Beaver.com, “DVD Comparison,” JPG file, http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare/gentlemansagreement.htm (accessed November 8, 2008).
[2] The Mave.com, “John Garfield Image Gallery,” JPG file, http://themave.com/Garfield/gallery/ (accessed November 8, 2008).

Glory

Posted in 2008hist329 on October 8th, 2008 by kokoro

As a secondary source Glory certainly has some issues, especially with smaller details, and even some not so small details (shouldn’t the recruits of the 54th Regiment have been mostly free blacks?), but overall the movie depicts a fair representation of the Northern opinions towards blacks, as well as blacks’ opinions of themselves. I think the movie does a better job than Amistad in showing a larger historical context. Amistad seemed to suggest the case was an important cause of the Civil War and a great step in abolition, which is simply not true. In Glory, the black regiments help to change Northern views toward the black race and help to give the blacks a sense of self-respect and confidence, which is a fairly accurate account. Also, the battle scenes are well done. They were filmed with the help of actual Civil War re-enactors, which supports the accuracy of the battles.

As a primary source of the time when Glory was made, it is quite clear that Hollywood was out of its romanticizing of slavery and the Old South period. The movie portrays slavery as bad, plain and simple, but it does tend to play up Northern goodness to a degree, especially with Shaw. Then again, Shaw’s goodness has been played up in real life. It’s important to note that the movie also shows Northerners who are nasty to the blacks. Even Shaw has some moral ambiguity, like when he allows Trip to be whipped. I think Glory shows the generally accepted and more accurate view of slavery and Civil War that replaced the old ideas of benevolent white masters with loyal slaves. Of course, there will probably always be people who want to believe that history…

The Carol Burnett Show

Posted in 2008hist329 on September 28th, 2008 by kokoro

And now for something completely different. Carol Burnett’s classic Gone with the Wind parody, Went with the Wind

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/IH6TBEbP77Q" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/2Nt0yi4wbro" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Vicki Lawrence makes this sketch.

Amistad music

Posted in 2008hist329 on September 27th, 2008 by kokoro

Sorry, no music from The Patriot. That musical score didn’t really strike me. But on the subject of John Williams music, here’s part of the Academy Award nominated score from Amistad.

Dry Your Tears, Afrika

Crossing the Atlantic

Cinque’s Theme

Cinque’s Memories of Home

Middle Passage

The Long Road to Justice

Adam’s Summation

Going Home

Enjoy!

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Last of the Mohicans Music

Posted in 2008hist329 on September 15th, 2008 by kokoro

Well, I’m about a week too late, but here’s some of the music from Last of the Mohicans for those interested. One of the few good things about the movie…

Main Title

Garden Scene

The Kiss

Massacre

Promontory

Top of the World

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Pocahontas Music

Posted in 2008hist329 on September 5th, 2008 by kokoro

For those that are interested, I’ve uploaded all of the musical numbers from Pocahontas.

The Virginia Company

The Virginia Company (Reprise)

Steady as the Beating Drum (Main Title)

Steady as the Beating Drum (Reprise)

Just Around the Riverbend

Listen with Your Heart I

Mine, Mine, Mine

Listen with Your Heart II

Colors of the Wind

Savages (Part 1)

Savages (Part 2)

Enjoy!

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