Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Starring Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire & John Garfield

Rating 8/10

Post war America. Attitudes have changed. New challenges have risen out of the ashes of World War II. The time has come to build a new America, one where prejudice has no home. This is message is driven home in this film, over and over again.

Philip Schuyler Green (Peck) is a widower with a young son. He has recently scored a job at a liberal magazine in New York City. He is both sad and philosophical about life. A renowned columnist, Green’s editor has suggested he write a series on Anti-semitism. And it is there our education begins.

Green soon meets self-confessed liberal thinker Kathy Lacey (Dorothy McGuire) and they fall madly in love. However, cracks form in Lacey’s cool exterior when Green tells her he’s going to pretend to be Jewish for 6 months to get to the heart Anti-semitism. Could her friends handle the fact she is engaged to a Jew? Soon Green’s best bud, Dave (John Garfield) comes to visit. Dave is an authentic Jewish man who knows first hand the trouble Green is getting himself into.

You can imagine the bigotry, the trials, the shock and awe of the whole process and in the end, Green comes out with a cracker of a series. His real identity is revealed and there are red faces all ’round. Lessons learned.

For a modern white gal in a country downunder, far away from world wars and full on bigotry, this was an education. However, the lessons were so passionately driven home, that it felt a little preachy after a while. Perhaps that is what the culture needed at the time. I think, for the most part, we get it nowadays. I hope!

I loved Green and his passion. As a writer, I related to his writer’s block and the frustrations that come when you try to translate passion into a piece that will move people. I loved his mumma. She was so wise and loving. His son was a cutie patootie and McGuire gave an impressive performance as the double-minded Lacey.

I understand how this film won Best Picture. At the time it would have been quite confronting and humbling for the audience. It seems the film was trying to do what Green also was attempting; moving people from a place of prejudice to one of acceptance.

Gentleman’s Agreement Trivia:

  • Budget – About $2,000,000
  • Jewish producer, Samuel Goldwyn pleaded for the film not to be made as he thought it might make things worse.
  • The House of Un-American Activities Committee was not happy with the film. They forced four Jewish participants from the film to testify before them. Two refused. John Garfield was blacklisted for a year and then died aged 39.
  • Celeste Holm who play one of the magazine writers, found Gregory Peck no fun to work with. He is a little stiff and tall and, I’m ashamed to say it, plastic! We love you Greggy.
  • This film took only 3 months to shoot! A record?!
  • It was the highest grossing film of the year.

With all the war stuff over, we move on to a tale from the Bard. Next time we are watching Hamlet, starring Sir Laurence Olivier, of course! Stay tuned, check it out and tell me what you think!!

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