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Groundbreaking Look At Prejudice,
This review is from: Gentleman's Agreement (DVD)
Elia Kazan's 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement is the story of a journalist who is employed to write a series of articles on the scourge of anti-Semitism in America. The journalist, Phil Green, is played by Gregory Peck and in order to get his information first hand, he poses as Jew. He encounters all forms of prejudice and his blooming romance with the niece of his publisher takes a hit. Kathy (Dorothy McGuire) insists that she harbors no ant-Semitic feelings finds that through her association with Green, that such prejudices bubble underneath the surface. John Garfield gives a standout performance as Green's lifelong friend, Dave Goldman, who has experience prejudice his whole life and has learned to be philosophical about man's failings, but still is willing to fight against blind ignorance as noted in a gripping scene where he is denied a room in a swanky hotel by an unbearable snooty desk clerk who refuses to admit the reason he won't give Dave a room is that he is Jewish even though it is obviously apparent that is the reason why. Celeste Holm won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as a fashion writer and socialite who is attracted to Green and heavily pursues him. The film was ground-breaking at the time of its release as it was the first Hollywood movie to tackle anti-Semitism head-on. Prior to World War II, it was an unspoken rule that anti-Semitism could only be hinted at even if a film like The Life of Emile Zola was about it. But over the years, the film has lost a lot of its power and it isn't aided by the fact that many of the characters are stock profiles that exude a one-dimensional feel. Despite that fact, it still is an important film and one that can still teach a lesson as well as entertain. Mr. Kazan won the first of his two Best Directing Oscars and the film won Best Picture in 1947.