What’s a Jewish film? My definition is quite simple. It is a film that deals with Jewish subject matter. Thus, Woody Allen does not make Jewish films. In truth, Hollywood movies that do deal with Judaism are quite rare. Take a look at the subject headings in Netflix. There is no category for Jewish films.
However, there are now quite a few interesting indie films on Amazon Prime and Netflix that deal seriously or humorously with Jewish subject matter. But those movies will be the subject of a future blog post. I’m also planning a blog post about Yiddish films, a fascinating genre.
For now, I’d like to bring your attention to a few obscure Jewish Hollywood films that can usually be found on TCM. And if you’re lucky, some may show up on You Tube.
“Eyes are the greatest tool in film. Mr. Capra taught me that. Sure it’s nice to say very good dialogue, if you can get it. But great movie acting — watch the eyes!”
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Fans of classic movies often have a hard time finding their favorite selections on television or in stores. While there are of course a few basic channels that will occasionally show older, classic films, tv schedules are generally aiming for the broadest possible appeal, and classic films don’t always reach the widest audiences. This is why, if you have been having trouble finding programming that you like, you may want to look into something like direct tv choice extra, which can offer you additional channels, as well as special film networks. Some of these networks can be particularly appealing for fans of certain genres. For example, fans of classic Jewish films may have luck finding some of the following respected and historically important films on a network like TCM (Turner Classic Movies).
- The Jazz Singer, The landmark 1927 movie starring Al Jolson that was Warner Brothers first sound film, an adaptation of a hit Broadway musical. This is a film that is greatly appreciated by fans of classic film—it features the Yom Kippur liturgy—but is rarely if ever shown on basic cable channels.
- The Younger Generation, 1929, a silent film directed by the great Frank Capra. Story of a social-climbing Jewish man, played by Ricardo Cortez, b. Jacob Kranz, and his old-world parents who are heartbroken by their son’s rejection of family and Judaism.