Watch: Gentleman’s Agreement 1947 123movies, Full Movie Online – Philip Green is a highly respected writer who is recruited by a national magazine to write a series of articles on anti-Semitism in America. He’s not too keen on the series, mostly because he’s not sure how to tackle the subject. Then it dawns on him: if he was to pretend to all and sundry that he was Jewish, he could then experience the degree of racism and prejudice that exists and write his story from that perspective. It takes little time for him to experience bigotry. His anger at the way he is treated also affects his relationship with Kathy Lacy, his publisher’s niece and the person who suggested the series in the first place..
Plot: A magazine writer poses as a Jew to expose anti-Semitism.
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All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing…
I’ve often wondered –maybe naively- why is it that anti-Semitism is always “associated with” but “never included” within racism. In these times of extreme communitarian sensitivity, I’m fully aware that these questions can hide an unconscious form of anti-Semitism but I know my conscience is crystal clear on that level.
Let’s first put facts into their historical context, anti-Semitism is undoubtedly connected with an indelible stain on Humanity’s soul called the Holocaust, six millions of Jews died of something that started with an individual belief, a devastating number in a dramatically short time span. The historical trauma made obvious the distinction between anti-Semitism and racism. Now it angers communities who protest against the supremacy given to the Jew suffering, above others from the past and the present, but as a retort, these protestations are liable to get the ‘anti-Semite’ stamp, making the snake biting his own tail.
Now it’s impossible to see where and where is not anti-Semitism, the only certitude being that its injurious effect acts on a reputation like a torpedo on a U-boat. But back then in 1947, things were a bit different. Directed by Elia Kazan, and written by Moss Hart, “Gentleman’s Agreement” explores anti-Semitism in post-war America. Gregory Peck is Phil Green, a noble-hearted journalist assigned to write a series about anti-Semitism to see which aspects of his life he took for granted would be affected if he passed as a Jew. And boy, no matter how confident, charismatic, and well-spoken he is, the mere mention of his ethnicity carves a sign of undesirability on his front.
And the time the film was made is crucial: 1947. Two years after GI’s discovered the extents of Nazi barbarity in Death camps and one year before the creation of the state of Israel, not without American help. What Kazan’s film offers is an interesting view on America’s mindset toward Jewish people: bigotry, misunderstanding and defiance, remarkably contrasting with the US Foreign Policy. Basically, it’s not the film that is dated, but minds. The anti-Semitism discovered by Phil is one that hasn’t been confronted to its devastating effects. After all, what Nazis did, started with the way Americans thought, shocking but true.
And “that” anti-Semitism didn’t wait the Holocaust; its roots are Biblical before being cultural: defiance toward people without a land, but with influence, a mix of envy and hate, an ugly feeling indeed, fueled by the certitude to belong to the right side. This is Green’s subtlest discovery, there are anti-Semites and there are people guilty of silence, feeling on the safe side from the anti-Semitism they observe. To give you an example, there were three kinds of kids in the schoolyard: bullies, victims and cowards who either supported the bullies or didn’t help the victims, to avoid the hits. All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
And speaking of good persons doing nothing, Green finds one and falls in love with her. Dorothy McGuire is Kathy, his boss’ niece, a divorced woman who actually suggested the theme of the series. Yet, despite her well-meaning intentions, as the romance grew, she betrayed in many occasions her unconscious bigotry. It started with her confused concern whether Green’s Jewish or not (ruining a promising dinner) and culminated after Phil’s son (played by a young Dean Stockwell) complained about kids attacking him because he said he was a Jew. She doesn’t comfort him by saying that they were bad, but by him not being a Jew causing a justifiable anger from Phil.
She finally closes the door after a remarkable speech that says a lot about her conception of “being a Jew”, it’s obviously a social handicap according to her, and although she has nothing against Jews, she feels exactly like someone who’s handsome, young or rich instead of ugly, old or poor. In other words, it’s nothing to feel ashamed of. Phil’s journey reveals the ugliest side of American narrow-mindedness, even to the point, ironic but insightful, that his Jewish secretary is part of the same conspiracy, speaking herself about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ Jews and it’s a Gentile teaching her a lesson. This is for subtleties like this that the film overcomes its self-righteous impeccability.
One can also regret that the survey didn’t exceed the limits of the upper-class but maybe anti-Semitism is an educated disease, which makes it much more detestable. Could there be an uglier euphemism than “Gentleman’s Agreement”? Thankfully, Green finds some strong support from Anne, a free-spirited woman played by the Oscar-winning Celeste Holm, he finds it in Dave, John Garfield as his Jewish friend who knows too well what Phil is going through, and there is Anne Revere as his loving and caring mother. It seems that despite this great casting, Kazan and Holm didn’t get along with Peck, I can see why if Peck really immersed himself into his character.
And despite winning the Best Director Oscar and the film winning Best Picture, Kazan felt that the film lacked passion (indeed, Stockwell’s cries said more than any Peck’s speech), and that the romance was forced. Well, I think it would have damaged the film if it distracted it from its political agenda. But Green goes back to Kathy after her redemptive act showing that times have changed for the best, and making Anne Revere wishing she could live up to see how this century will evolve. But, I don’t think times have changed much. Sure, anti-Semitism isn’t as deep and extreme in America, but go ask the average or upper-class Americans what they think about Muslims.
Sure they’ll talk about terrorism and September 11th, but remember, there’s no racism that doesn’t start with a belief and there’s no belief that doesn’t start with misinterpreted facts. Finally, I stand corrected, there’s nothing in “Gentleman’s Agreement” that has lost its relevance, which is good news for the film, but sad for humanity.
Original Language en
Runtime 1 hr 58 min (118 min)
Rated Not Rated
Genre Drama, Romance
Director Elia Kazan
Writer Laura Z. Hobson, Moss Hart, Elia Kazan
Actors Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield
Country United States
Awards Won 3 Oscars. 12 wins & 8 nominations total
Production Company N/A
Sound Mix Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Aspect Ratio 1.37 : 1
Film Length 3,243.99 m (13 reels)
Negative Format 35 mm
Cinematographic Process Spherical
Printed Film Format 35 mm