Gentleman's Agreement

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Gentleman's Agreement
Gentleman's Agreement (1947 movie poster).jpg
original movie poster
Directed by Elia Kazan
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay by Moss Hart
Elia Kazan
Based on Gentleman's Agreement
1947 novel
by Laura Z. Hobson
Starring Gregory Peck
Dorothy McGuire
John Garfield
Celeste Holm
June Havoc
Anne Revere
Dean Stockwell
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Arthur C. Miller
Edited by Harmon Jones
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 11, 1947 (1947-11-11)(New York City)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1,985,000 [1] [2]
Box office$7,800,000 [3]

Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 American drama film based on Laura Z. Hobson's best-selling novel of the same name. It concerns a journalist (played by Gregory Peck) who poses as a Jew to research an exposé on the widespread distrust and dislike of Jews in New York City and the affluent communities of New Canaan, Connecticut and Darien, Connecticut. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won three: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), and Best Director (Elia Kazan).

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

Laura Zametkin Hobson was an American writer, best known for her novels Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and Consenting Adult (1975).

<i>Gentlemans Agreement</i> (novel) book by Laura Z. Hobson

Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 novel by Laura Z. Hobson which explored the problem of anti-Semitism in the United States, what The New York Times called, in a contemporary review, "a story of the emotional disturbance that occurs within a man who elects, for the sake of getting a magazine article, to tell people that he is a Jew and who experiences first-hand, as a consequence, the shock and pain of discriminations and social snubs."

Contents

The movie was controversial in its time, as was a similar film on the same subject, Crossfire , which was released the same year (though that film was originally a story about homophobia, later changed to anti-Semitism).

<i>Crossfire</i> (film) 1947 noir drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk

Crossfire is a 1947 film noir drama film which deals with the theme of anti-Semitism, as did that year's Academy Award for Best Picture winner, Gentleman's Agreement. The film was directed by Edward Dmytryk and the screenplay was written by John Paxton, based on the 1945 novel The Brick Foxhole by screenwriter and director Richard Brooks. The film stars Robert Mitchum, Robert Young, Robert Ryan, and Gloria Grahame. It received five Academy Award nominations, including Ryan for Best Supporting Actor and Gloria Grahame for Best Supporting Actress. It was the first B movie to receive a best picture nomination.

Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). It has been defined as contempt, prejudice, aversion, hatred or antipathy, may be based on irrational fear, and is often related to religious beliefs.

It was released on DVD as part of the 20th Century Fox Studio Classics collection.

DVD Optical disc

DVD is a digital optical disc storage format invented and developed in 1995. The medium can store any kind of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer files as well as video programs watched using DVD players. DVDs offer higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same dimensions.

In 2017, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". [4]

National Film Registry selection of films for preservation in the US Library of Congress

The National Film Registry (NFR) is the United States National Film Preservation Board's (NFPB) selection of films deserving of preservation. The NFPB, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008. The NFPB's mission, to which the NFR contributes, is to ensure the survival, conservation, and increased public availability of America's film heritage. The 1996 law also created the non-profit National Film Preservation Foundation which, although affiliated with the NFPB, raises money from the private sector.

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Library of Congress as the largest library in the world, and the library describes itself as such. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

Plot

Dorothy McGuire and Gregory Peck Dorothy McGuire and Gregory Peck in Gentleman's Agreement trailer.jpg
Dorothy McGuire and Gregory Peck

Philip Schuyler Green (Gregory Peck) is a widowed journalist who has just moved to New York City with his son Tommy (Dean Stockwell) and mother (Anne Revere). Green meets with magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker), who asks Green, a Gentile, to write an article on anti-Semitism ("Some people don't like other people just because they're Jews"). He is not very enthusiastic at first, but after initially struggling with how to approach the topic in a fresh way, Green is inspired to adopt a Jewish identity ("Phil Greenberg") and writes about his first-hand experiences.

Gregory Peck American actor

Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor. He was one of the most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s. Peck received five Academy Award for Best Actor nominations, and won once – for his performance as Atticus Finch in the 1962 drama film To Kill a Mockingbird.

Journalist person who collects, writes and distributes news and other information

A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist's work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. For example, a sports journalist covers news within the world of sports, but this journalist may be a part of a newspaper that covers many different topics.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

At a dinner party, Phil meets Minify's divorced niece Kathy Lacey (Dorothy McGuire), a pre-school teacher, who turns out to be the person who originally suggested the story idea. The next day, Phil tries to explain anti-Jewish prejudice to his young, precocious son – directly after displaying some anti-female prejudice of his own. Green tells his mother that he's struck by the odd notion that the idea for the article came from "a girl" at the magazine. His mother replies, "Why, women will be thinking next". Phil and Kathy begin dating. Green and Minify agree to keep it secret that Phil is not Jewish.

Dorothy McGuire American actress

Dorothy Hackett McGuire was an American actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Gentleman's Agreement (1947) and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress for Friendly Persuasion (1956).

Phil has considerable difficulty getting started on his assignment. He realizes he can never feel what another person feels unless he experiences it himself. He recalls having "lived as an Okie on Route 66" or as a coal miner for previous writing jobs, instead of tapping a man on the shoulder and making him talk. That's when he decides to write, "I Was Jewish for Six Months".

Though Kathy seems to have liberal views, when he reveals what he intends to do, she is taken aback and asks if he actually is Jewish. The strain on their relationship due to Kathy's subtle acquiescence to bigotry becomes a key theme in the film.

At the magazine, Phil is assigned a secretary, Elaine Wales (June Havoc), who reveals that she, too, is Jewish. She changed her name in order to get the job (her application under her real, Jewish-sounding name, Estelle Wilovsky, was rejected). After Phil informs Minify about Wales' experience, Minify orders the magazine to adopt hiring policies that are open to Jews. Wales has reservations about the new policy, fearing that the "wrong Jews" will be hired and ruin things for the few Jews working there now. Phil meets fashion editor Anne Dettrey (Celeste Holm), who becomes a good friend and potentially more, particularly as strains develop between Phil and Kathy.

John Garfield and Dorothy McGuire John Garfield and Dorothy McGuire in Gentleman's Agreement trailer.jpg
John Garfield and Dorothy McGuire

Phil's childhood friend, Dave Goldman (John Garfield), who is Jewish, moves to New York for a job and lives with the Greens while he looks for a home for his family. Dave also experiences anti-Semitism, when some person in the armed forces tells him that he hates Jews, and gets into a brief fight before the prejudiced soldier is taken away. Housing is scarce in the city, but it is particularly difficult for Goldman, since not all landlords will rent to a Jewish family. When Phil tells Dave about his project, Dave is supportive, but concerned.

As Phil researches his story, he experiences several incidents of bigotry. When his mother becomes ill with a heart condition, the doctor discourages him from consulting a specialist with an obviously Jewish name, suggesting he might be cheated. When Phil reveals that he is himself Jewish, the doctor becomes uncomfortable and leaves. In addition, the janitor is shocked to see that a Jewish name is listed on the mail box, instead of his Christian name. Also, when Phil wants to celebrate his honeymoon at a swanky hotel for rich people in the country, the hotel manager refuses to register Phil, because Phil is Jewish, and tells him to register at a different hotel instead. Tommy becomes the target of bullies when his schoolmates discover he is Jewish. Phil is troubled by the way Kathy consoles Tommy, telling him their taunts of "dirty Jew" are wrong because he isn't Jewish, not that the epithet is wrong in and of itself.

Kathy's attitudes are revealed further when she and Phil announce their engagement. Her sister Jane (Jane Wyatt) invites them to a celebration in her home in Darien, Connecticut, which is known to be a "restricted" community where Jews are not welcome. Fearing an awkward scene, Kathy wants to tell her family and friends that Phil is only pretending to be a Jew, but Phil prevails on Kathy to tell only Jane. At the party, everyone is very friendly to Phil, though many people are "unable" to attend at the last minute.

Dave announces that he will have to quit his job because he cannot find a residence for his family. Kathy owns a vacant cottage in Darien, but though Phil sees it as the obvious solution to Dave's problem, Kathy is unwilling to offend her neighbors by renting it to a Jewish family. She and Phil break their engagement. Phil announces that he will be moving away from New York when his article is published. When it comes out, it is very well received by the magazine staff.

Kathy meets with Dave and tells him how sick she felt when a party guest told a bigoted joke. However, she has no answer when Dave repeatedly asks her what she did about it. She comes to realize that remaining silent condones the prejudice.

The next day, Dave tells Phil that he and his family will be moving into the cottage in Darien, and Kathy will be moving in with her sister next door to make sure they are treated well by their neighbors. When Phil hears this, he reconciles with Kathy.

Production

Zanuck decided to make a film version of Hobson's novel after being refused membership in the Los Angeles Country Club, because it was assumed incorrectly that he was Jewish. Before filming commenced, Samuel Goldwyn and other Jewish film executives approached Darryl Zanuck and asked him not to make the film, fearing it would "stir up trouble". They also warned that Hays Code enforcer, Joseph Breen, might not allow the film to pass the censors, as he had been known to make disparaging remarks about Jews. There was also concern that Dorothy McGuire's character's being divorced would offend the National Legion of Decency.

The role of Phillip Green was first offered to Cary Grant, but he turned it down. Peck decided to accept the role, although his agent advised him to refuse, believing Peck would be endangering his career. Jewish actor John Garfield agreed to play a lesser role in the film in order to be a part of it.

Portions of the film were shot on location in Darien, Connecticut. [5]

Main cast and characters

Gregory Peck in Gentleman's Agreement trailer closeup.jpg Gregory Peck as Philip Schuyler Green Anne Revere in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg Anne Revere as Mrs. Green
Dorothy McGuire in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg Dorothy McGuire as Kathy Lacey June Havoc in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg June Havoc as Elaine Wales
John Garfield in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg John Garfield as Dave Goldman Albert Dekker in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg Albert Dekker as John Minify
Celeste Holm in Gentleman's Agreement trailer.jpg Celeste Holm as Anne Dettrey Jane Wyatt in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg Jane Wyatt as Jane

Other cast members

Dean Stockwell as Tommy Green
Nicholas Joyas Doctor Craigie
Sam Jaffe as Professor Fred Lieberman

Reception

Gentleman's Agreement received a generally favorable reception from influential New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. Crowther said that "every point about prejudice which Miss Hobson had to make in her book has been made with superior illustration and more graphic demonstration in the film, so that the sweep of her moral indignation is not only widened, but intensified thereby". However, Crowther also said that the movie shared the novel's failings in that "explorations are narrowly confined to the upper-class social and professional level to which he is immediately exposed". He also said the main character's shock at the extent of anti-Semitism was lacking in credibility: "It is, in a careful analysis, an extraordinarily naive role." [6]

In addition to winning Academy Awards for best picture and best director, Gentleman's Agreement was one of Fox's highest-grossing movies of 1947. The political nature of the film, however, upset the House Un-American Activities Committee, with Elia Kazan, Darryl Zanuck, John Garfield, and Anne Revere all being called to testify before the committee. Revere refused to testify and although Garfield appeared, he refused to "name names". Both were placed in the Red Channels of the Hollywood Blacklist. Garfield remained on the blacklist for a year, was called again to testify against his wife, and died of a heart attack at the age of 39 before his second hearing date.

In recognition for producing Gentleman's Agreement, the Hollywood chapter of B'nai B'rith International honored Darryl Zanuck as its "Man of the Year" for 1948. On Sunday, December 12, a gala commemoration evening was held in downtown Los Angeles, at the Biltmore Hotel, before a crowd of over a thousand. Among the tributes to Zanuck, New Mexico Senator Clinton Anderson said, "He does not storm up and down the streets of a community, urging its citizens to do good. He does not fill the pages of books with words that string together into a sermon. He allows you to be seated comfortably in a theater, to be absorbed in a problem and to walk out into the night with your thoughts clarified and your lips say, 'This situation ought to be changed'." [7] After the formal speeches there was a star-studded variety show, including the debut before the Hollywood film world of the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Box office

The movie was an unexpected hit at the box office. According to Variety, it earned $3.9 million in rentals in the US in 1948. [8]

Awards

The film won three Oscars:

It was nominated for another five Oscars:

See also

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References

  1. Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p. 244, ISBN   978-0-8108-4244-1.
  2. https://archive.org/stream/variety171-1948-07#page/n0/mode/1up
  3. Box Office Information for Gentleman's Agreement. The Numbers. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  4. "2017 National Film Registry Is More Than a 'Field of Dreams'" . Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  5. Lynn Haney (2003). Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life. Da Capo Press. ISBN   0-7867-1473-5.
  6. Crowther, Bosley (November 11, 1947). "Gentleman's Agreement (1947)". New York Times.
  7. Los Angeles Times. (Dec. 14, 1948). p. 14.
  8. "Top Grossers of 1948", Variety 5 January 1949 p 46