Not knowing a great deal about anti-Senitism myself, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the 20th best picture in a row, Gentleman’s Agreement. These last few Best Picture winners have dealt with rather touchy subjects, like alcohol addiction and returning war veterans. In this case, director Elia Kazan takes on racial prejudice, and was heavily rewarded with three Oscars. But how does the film stack up today?
Phillip Green (Gregory Peck of To Kill A Mockingbird fame) is a Christian journalist who’s been assigned to write an article on anti-Senitism. His boss doesn’t want the usual facts and figures, (actual line: ‘You want the moon!’ ‘Yeah. With parsley’.) so he comes up with the idea of posing as a Jew. But this simple act changes not only his perception of religious intolerance, but others as well.
What I like about this movie is the subtlety of the screenplay. Little things like his fiancee’s reaction to Green playing a Jew, to Green explaining to his son what exactly religious prejudice is. I also really like the relationships between the characters, and I thought that the entire cast did their jobs very well, especially Peck and Dorothy McGuire, who plays his fiancee. But, like I said, what stands out about this movie is the subtlety of it all. I love how when Green’s son gets called a ‘dirty Jew’ by a bully, the first thing McGuire says is ‘They’re wrong. You’re no more a jew than I am,’ as if there was something wrong with the title. And like our main character, It almost feels like we become Jews ourselves, dealing with the prejudice that is thrown against you.
Keep in mind, I don’t know how Jews themselves would react to this film. (In fact, if you’re a Jew and you’ve seen the movie, I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments.) I wouldn’t say that it’s one of my favorite best pictures, but it was an enjoyable film and I’d recommend it. Well, that’s all I’ve got to say!