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Based on the celebrated but now sadly neglected novel by Laura Z. Hobson, GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT is a story about the little jokes that people tell because they want to fit in--and the jokes that people let pass because they don't want to make a scene. And it is about the way in which such incidents enable still darker prejudices that strike directly at the heart of all the people we make the little jokes about.
Philip Schuyler Green has been employed to write an expose of anti-Semitism in post-WWII America--and he has an inspiration. He will pretend to be Jewish himself and experience anti-Semitism first hand. But the little jokes are soon followed by little patronizations, the patronizations give way to ill-concealed racism and religious prejudice, and what began as a magazine job begins to shake Green to his very foundations. It will threaten his friendships, his relationship with the socialite he hopes to marry, the well-being of his mother, and ultimately the safety of his child.
Critics are fond of pointing out that the film is flawed. That is true enough: the first quarter hour feels a bit slow, leading man Gregory Pecks seems to lack conviction in his earliest scenes, and the script often calls upon its characters to philosophize in an unlikely way; the last scene in the film also rings false.Read more ›
Peck plays a New York magazine writer who decides to do a comprehensive study of what it is like to live as a Jew. One of the film's most powerful scenes occurs when Peck, giving the name he is using for his investigation, Green, is turned away when he seeks to register at a prominent hotel, with a policy of turning away Jews. He learns much as well about the struggle of Jewish Americans in interacting with his friend John Garfield, an Army officer with much insight to reveal.
His involvement in the controversial experiment and ultimately expose causes Peck problems with his girlfriend Dorothy McGuire. Eventually she sees the light and recognizes an important truism as she states that at least in the cases of anti-Semitic bigots one knows where one stands. She observes the more outwardly subtle problem of people on the one hand proclaiming themselves as liberal and without prejudice, but also playing it safe and refusing to stand up for injustice when it occurs, such as when anti-Jewish jokes are told at cocktail parties or slights are observed which stem from bigotry and nothing is said.
"Gentleman's Agreement" was a bold step forward for Hollywood in facing up to realities in post-World War Two America. Zanuck and Kazan would also tackle the subject of race in the sensitively done "Pinky" with Jeanne Crain one year later in 1949. Crain is a young woman with African American blood who attempts to pass for white in a society affected by racism.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A bit rushed in many places, but they only had two hours to cover a very important & complex subject based on a complex novel.
Fine acting from John Garfield and Celeste Holm.
This is an amazingly subtle portrayal of the nuances of anti-semitism which is just as relevant today as it was seventy years ago. Don't miss this film. Read morePublished 11 days ago by JBT-by-the-Sea
Love This Movie and also Love John Garfield as an actor, one slight problem, The DVD Cover of mine is totally different.Published 14 days ago by Jacinta
Still relevant in parts of the world today and concerning all prejudices, it will always be relevant.Published 2 months ago by Julia
An old movie, but still powerful. The acting is, of course, the best.Published 3 months ago by krystalbird
A classic--Gregory gives one of his great appearances in this title!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer