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Gentleman's Agreement

(1947 b 118')

En: 8 Ed: 9

Moss Hart wrote the screenplay based on the novel by Valerie Z. Hobson about magazine writer who says he is Jewish in order to learn about anti-Semitism.

Philip Schuyler Green (Gregory Peck) shows his son Tommy (Dean Stockwell) New York and goes to work for a magazine. John Minify (Albert Dekker) asks Phil to write about anti-Semitism. At a party Kathy Lacey (Dorothy McGuire) says it was her idea. At breakfast Grandma (Anne Revere) cooks, and Phil tries to tell Tommy about Jews. Minify asks Phil to humanize the story. Phil has dinner with Kathy. They speak honestly and dance.

After a week Phil still needs an idea and is glad Kathy calls often. Phil decides to contact his Jewish friend Dave. Grandma has a heart pain, but a doctor says she is okay. Phil tells his mother that he will be Jewish for six months. Kathy comes over, and he kisses her. They talk about marriage. Phil tells Minify his idea, and Phil tells the staff that he is Jewish. Phil asks his Jewish secretary Elaine Wales (June Havoc) to send letters and applications from Schuyler Green and Phil Greenberg. Phil tells Kathy his idea, and their evening is somber; but after leaving he goes back and apologizes. Elaine is worried about the Jews they may hire. Phil goes for a drink with Anne (Celeste Holm), who invites him to her party. Phil takes Kathy, who wants to inform her sister Jane that he is not Jewish. At the party they meet physicist Fred Lieberman (Sam Jaffe), who says he is not religious but from pride still considers himself Jewish because it is socially disadvantageous. Phil and Kathy argue about telling her sister's friends.

Dave Goldman (John Garfield) calls and visits Phil while he looks for a place to live for his new job. Phil tells Dave that his angle is working, and Dave says he is getting it concentrated. Dave tells Phil to call Kathy. At a restaurant a man calls Dave a Yid. Kathy calls Phil from her sister's in Connecticut, and he goes there. Jane (Jane Wyatt) tells Kathy that some people did not come. Kathy shows Phil her house where she wants to live with him.

Dave says he is leaving because he can't find a place to live. Phil goes to a hotel that is restricted and is turned away. Kathy tells Phil that Dave could not live in her cottage because of a gentleman's agreement. Tommy says he was called a "dirty Jew." Phil and Kathy quarrel, and she says she won't marry him because he is judging her. Anne and Dave find Phil in bed and make him get up.

Phil gives Elaine the first three installments, and she learns he is a Christian. Phil tells Minify that he is going back to California. Anne finds out and invites Phil for dinner. She says Kathy is a hypocrite, and Phil asks if she is proposing. Dave meets Kathy, who says she was ashamed by a joke; but Dave notes she did not do anything. Phil's mother kisses him for writing the articles and wishes his father could have read them. Dave comes in and calls to accept his job because he has a house. He tells Phil that Kathy will defend him. Phil goes to Kathy and embraces her.

This drama challenges the subtle prejudices that shape people's attitudes toward Jews. Ironically Jewish producers in Hollywood advised against making the film; but after the concentration camps were exposed, Hobson's magazine articles were extremely popular. The time was right for people to face this bigotry more openly.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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