An entertainingly riveting landmark about prejudice
“Gentleman’s Agreement” was Hollywood’s first and most impactful exploration of antisemitism. It won over fifty awards including a Best Picture Oscar, Best Picture Golden Globe, and New York Film Critics Circle Award, and its success opened the door for deeper looks at topics often swept under the rug in America. As the film’s director Elia Kazan wrote in his autobiography, “A Life”: “Chosen by the critics, hailed by opinion makers, a box office winner, it provoked many statements about the movies’ finally coming of age. It was repeatedly pointed out that here the word ‘Jew’ was used for the first time in a major Hollywood film”. Over the past decades this absorbing tale has become relatively forgotten and is sometimes criticized for overstating its point. Overstated or not, it remains a highly gripping, emotionally powerful, and eye-opening film, and once again finds itself achingly relevant with today’s growing awareness of cultural prejudice. With surprises that keep unfolding from start to finish, this beautifully made and enthralling social drama is one you definitely don’t want to miss.
“Gentleman’s Agreement” focuses on widowed journalist “Phil Green”, who has moved with his young son and mother to New York City to take on a writing assignment for a national magazine. An established writer, “Phil” was summoned by the magazine’s publisher “John Minify” for his fresh approach to his stories. “John” requests that “Phil” write a series about antisemitism that will “break it wide open” to the masses. As he later tells “Phil”, “There just isn’t anything bigger than beating down the complacency of essentially decent people about prejudice”. After racking his brain, the Gentile “Phil” comes up with the idea of going by the name of “Phil Greenberg” and pretending to be Jewish.
He sets out to write a story titled, “I Was Jewish for Six Months”, and in order for his story to succeed, asks his mother, son “Tommy”, his Jewish friend "Dave", and his romantic interest "Kathy" to keep his secret and also pretend he is Jewish. What “Phil" doesn't foresee is how virtually everyone around him becomes touched by the issue in hard-hitting ways. Framed inside a dramatic love story, this arresting tale of stepping into another’s shoes becomes a potent exploration of prejudice in its many forms – from the blatant name caller to the well-meaning, unconscious, and polite bigot.
It might be hard to imagine today, but making “Gentleman’s Agreement” was a major risk. Though antisemitism was rampant in the US, it was taboo to speak of – particularly in a Hollywood film. Two years prior, the world learned of the unthinkable atrocities and genocide aimed at Jews during World War II, and there was a general hope to move on from anything that echoed the Holocaust. But since the 1920s, US schools and institutions of higher learning (including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia) created quotas limiting the number of Jews they would allow, and hotels, resorts, clubs, and other establishments restricted Jews altogether from their businesses (one of my mother’s cousins was accepted for a job at Walt Disney Studios in the 1940s, only to lose it when they learned he was Jewish). Many neighborhoods across America had a very real yet unspoken gentleman's agreement not to rent or sell homes to Jews, which is where this film takes its title. The film also names some vocal antisemites of the time, including clergyman, politician, and Nazi sympathizer Gerald L. K. Smith, and US Senator, former Mississippi governor, known white supremacist, and Ku Klux Klan member Theodore G. Bilbo.
There was some backlash to “Gentleman’s Agreement” including an unsuccessful lawsuit brought against Twentieth Century-Fox by Smith to ban the film. And just after filming ended, the House Un-American Activities Commission or HUAC (which I explain in my "High Noon" post) began targeting Jews, liberals, homosexuals and other minorities as supposed communist threats. Convinced that Hollywood was a den of subversion, HUAC began summoning film industry people to testify about their affiliation with the communist party and name names of others as well. Ten writers and directors ("The Hollywood Ten") refused to testify, resulting in prison sentences, which began the Hollywood blacklist barring people from work in Hollywood. The subject matter of “Gentleman’s Agreement” upset HUAC, and many involved with the film were eventually called to testify and quite a few were blacklisted. As noted in a September 30th, 1948 New York Times article, “Gentleman’s Agreement” was banned for release in Spain on moral grounds by order of an ecclesiastical member of the Film Censorship Board for the reason that "while it was a Christian duty to stimulate love among individuals, societies, nations and peoples, this duty should not extend to Jews”. Spain’s Censorship Board later claimed the film was banned because antisemitism wasn't an issue in Spain, and the film was finally released there in 1949 as "La Barrera Invisible" ("The Invisible Barrier").
Based on a 1947 Laura Z. Hobson bestselling novel by the same (serialized in Cosmopolitan magazine beginning in 1946), 20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck (a Gentile) was the only Hollywood executive willing to adapt it for the screen. Other Hollywood executives (mostly Jewish) urged Zanuck not to make this film, afraid it would stir up a backlash of antisemitism. This fear is echoed in the film when a Jewish industrialist is told about the magazine’s upcoming story on antisemitism and responds with, “I think it a very bad idea ‘John’, the worst, most harmful thing you could possibly do now. It’ll only stir it up more… we know from experience, the less talking about it there is, the better”.
Though revolutionary, "Gentleman's Agreement" was still very much a Hollywood studio film. It used the stylistic, star driven studio era type of storytelling to bravely depict a pervasive forbidden topic, and as such became a bridge between old Hollywood and a new level of cinematic realism to come in US films that had just exploded in Italy with the neorealism movement. It was a studio film because the man behind it was its producer, the highly respected studio tycoon Darryl F. Zanuck.
One of Hollywood’s heavyweights, Nebraska born Darryl F. Zanuck worked in films from 1922 through 1970. He began as a writer, then head of production at Warner Brothers, and then helped form 20th Century Pictures, Inc, which soon became Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. Zanuck produced and oversaw many aspects of the studio’s films, and had a penchant for topical films about serious social issues, including looks at poverty in "The Grapes of Wrath”, and labor and environmental issues in "How Green Was My Valley". In his lifetime, Zanuck produced (or executive produced) over 240 films, including scores of additional classics (many of which helped shape American cinema) such as "All About Eve", "The Public Enemy", "42nd Street", "The Longest Day", "The Razor's Edge", "The Snake Pit", “Pinky" (again with Kazan), "No Way Out", "Twelve O'Clock High", "Viva Zapata!", and his final film, "Tora! Tora! Tora!". In 1936, he earned a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination for writing "'G' Men", and in 1937 was awarded the Academy's very first Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for producing a consistently high quality body of work. He was awarded that honor twice more (in 1944 and 1950), earning him the record for the most Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Awards (only thirty-nine have been awarded to date). In addition, Zanuck won three Best Picture Academy Awards (“Gentleman's Agreement", "How Green Was My Valley”, "All About Eve”), and his films earned fifteen Best Picture Oscar nominations. He had one of the longest careers in the Hollywood studio system (second only to Paramount Pictures founder and producer, Adolph Zukor). He was married once for over fifty years (until his death), although they separated just after thirty years. Darryl F. Zanuck died in 1979 at the age of 77.
Zanuck engaged Elia Kazan to direct "Gentleman's Agreement". The two had worked together earlier that year on the film “Boomerang!”. Though he’d only directed three feature films, Kazan was already showing signs of expertise at showing characters grappling with difficult personal or social issues. Unlike many Hollywood studio producers, Zanuck asked for Kazan’s approval over the screenwriter, and they eventually sought American playwright, librettist, and theatre director Moss Hart. Hart had won a Pulitzer Prize (with writing partner George S. Kaufman) for the play "You Can't Take It with You" in 1936, and was nominated that same year for a Best Original Story Oscar for the film "Broadway Melody of 1936". In a career spent mostly on Broadway, Hart wrote less than a handful of screenplays (including 1954's "A Star is Born"), and earned himself a Best Screenplay Academy Award nomination for "Gentleman's Agreement”.
Kazan managed to take Hart’s probing and charged script and humanize it by capturing a familiar portrait of the late 1940's American middle class. He smartly includes mundane real life events, such as showing “Phil” walk down hallways or enter elevators, making it seem we’re watching real life. Not solely focusing on antisemitism, “Gentleman’s Agreement” smartly shows "Phil" dealing with family health issues, apprehension about dating, and the trials of raising a son. Kazan uses actual locations to enhance the feeling that all of these characters are living and breathing in the real world, shooting scenes in New York City at Rockefeller Plaza, the NBC Building, and other landmarks. Not yet common practice in Hollywood, location shooting would become a hallmark for Kazan, starting with his game changing 1954 film “On the Waterfront”.
A gorgeous piece of film directing in “Gentleman’s Agreement” indicative of Kazan's skill is when “Phil” surveys “Kathy’s” country house. In a shot lasting about two minutes, “Phil” walks through the house while the camera lingers, void of dialogue for the first minute. The slow way Kazan presents the scene colors it as intimate, romantic, and lonely all at the same time. For his direction, Kazan won a Best Director Academy Award (his first win and nomination). Though relatively new to film directing, Kazan was already a major force in theater, having directed shy of a dozen Broadway shows and having just won a Best Director Tony Award for the original production of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” (his Oscar for “Gentleman’s Agreement” came the same year). He went on to win a second Best Director Oscar for "On the Waterfront", and was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1999 for his distinguished and unparalleled career. This is the fourth film on this blog directed by Elia Kazan, and you can read more about his life, career, and dealings with HUAC in my posts of his other classics "A Face in the Crowd", "On the Waterfront”, and "A Streetcar Named Desire".
Gregory Peck stars as “Philip Schuyler Green”, the Gentile journalist pretending to be Jewish. In a highly enjoyable performance, Peck effortlessly brings a sympathetic, nonthreatening demeanor to this morally conscious man. His shy, relaxed charm shines brighter in this film than in many of his others, particularly visible in the scene when “Phil” and “Kathy” are on their first date. He displays an uncomfortable awkwardness that seems completely genuine, complete with a nervous giggle from time to time. I feel it is the earthiest performance of Peck’s career. Watch the gentle tenderness with which he looks at “Kathy” throughout. There’s a delicate beauty in his work. He and Kazan were quite different, and though they got along (and became friends) they never worked together again. In the biography “Gregory Peck” by Tony Thomas, Peck is quoted as saying, “I don’t think he [Kazan] was comfortable with me. He prefers the more urban type of actors, the [Marlon] Brandos and the [James] Deans, people more like himself”. While that was confirmed by Kazan in interviews, it’s obvious he could still bring out Peck’s hidden qualities. For his spirited performance, Peck earned a Best Actor Academy Award nomination.
Gregory Peck had become a major movie star three years prior, with his second film, "The Keys of the Kingdom” in 1944, which earned him his first Best Actor Oscar nomination. Six films later (and a second Oscar nomination for “The Yearling”) came “Gentleman’s Agreement”. When Zanuck offered him the role he accepted it without hesitation. To keep his hand in theater while working on the film, Peck formed the not-for-profit La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California, which would become one of the country's preeminent theaters (earning a 1993 Tony Award as America's Outstanding Regional Theatre). Known for being humble, generous, and a humanitarian, this film helped establish and illuminate the noble, strong, and morally decent persona which Peck embodied both on and off screen. He openly challenged HUAC in 1947, and was questioned by the committee for previously giving charitable donations to many organizations facing scrutiny by HUAC. Peck unapologetically appeared before them with a list of all his donated charities explaining why he felt they were worthy, and was cleared of any suspicious activity. You can read about the life and career of Gregory Peck in two previous posts on this blog, “Roman Holiday” and his Best Actor Oscar winning, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Click on the film’s titles for more.
Dorothy McGuire stars as “Kathy Lacey”, the niece of publisher “John Minify”, and love interest of “Phil”. Divorced and helping run a nursery school, “Kathy” is also the one who suggested the magazine series on antisemitism. With the help of her wealthy uncle, she’s risen up the ranks of society and does what she needs to stay there. “Gentleman’s Agreement” was largely aimed at the middle-class, and it's through “Kathy” that audiences find themselves reflecting upon their own prejudices. Well-meaning and benevolent, her actions and impulses don’t quite match her intentions, as she isn’t morally strong enough (or willing enough) to take action or always do what’s right. Portraying a character that borders on being unlikable is a challenge for any actor, and McGuire aces the role, mixing “Kathy’s” well-bred snobbery with an unconscious innocence, rendering her understandably human. Her fantastic chemistry with Peck helps make it overwhelming believable that the lonely “Kathy” and “Phil” are in love. For her nuanced work, McGuire earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination (her only).
Nebraska born Dorothy McGuire began acting in community theater at the age of thirteen. After summer stock, she made her way to New York City, acted on radio and TV, and made it to Broadway as an understudy for the part of "Emily" in "Our Town" in 1938, eventually taking over the role. More Broadway roles followed, and in 1941 she starred in the Broadway production of "Claudia". David O'Selznick took notice and brought her to Hollywood where she starred in the screen version of “Claudia" (her first film), which was a hit. Her second feature was another hit, "The Enchanted Cottage” , followed by Kazan's directorial film debut, "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" in 1946 (yet another hit). Three films later came "Gentleman's Agreement". During "Gentleman's Agreement", McGuire co-founded the La Jolla Playhouse alongside Peck and actor Mel Ferrer. Though she had hit film after hit film, McGuire never quite achieved top stardom. After "Gentleman's Agreement" she returned to the La Jolla Playhouse, and then moved to Italy for a year. She returned to films in 1950 with "Mother Didn't Tell Me", and mediocre films followed before she settled into playing primarily mothers in such films as "Old Yeller", "Summer Magic", "A Summer Place", and as the Virgin Mary in "The Greatest Story Ever Told" in 1965. She also worked in TV (extensively in the 1970s and 1980s), earning three Emmy Award nominations (for 1954's "Climax!", 1976's "Rich Man, Poor Man", and "1986's "Amos"). Her last appearance was in the 1990 TV movie "The Last Best Year". She sporadically appeared on Broadway, ending with a starring role in the 1976 production of Tennessee Williams' "The Night of the Iguana", for which she earned a Drama Desk Award nomination. Other notable titles from her 55 film and TV credits include the films "The Spiral Staircase", "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs", "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker", and "Swiss Family Robinson", and recurring roles on the TV series "St. Elsewhere" and "Highway to Heaven". She was married to Life magazine photographer John Swope for over 35 years until his death, and one of their two children is actress Topo Swope. Dorothy McGuire died in 2001 at the age of 85.
John Garfield stars as “Dave Goldman”, the Jewish best friend of “Phil”. A Captain in the military, he is in New York City looking for a house so he can relocate his family and accept a job offer. In an exquisitely underplayed intense performance. Garfield is so grounded in authentic emotion, one can’t help but watch him when onscreen. Whether talking to “Phil” about antisemitism or “Kathy” about taking action, he manifests an inner life, something new for an actor of his day. In many ways Garfield was the link between the screen actors before him and the new breed of Method actors that followed (such as Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and James Dean). A major movie star at the time of “Gentleman’s Agreement”, Garfield had an affinity for making socially conscious films, and perhaps because he was Jewish himself, believed in this film so strongly he accepted a supporting role (with the condition that the script would not change).
John Garfield was born in New York City into poverty. His mother died when he was seven, he joined New York street gangs, got into fights, became a boxer, was expelled from schools and sent to a school for difficult children. Because he had a stammer, he was given speech lessons which led him to acting. Garfield began studying acting with the first US proponents of famed Russian acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavski, and was soon working alongside cutting edge acting figures such as Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, Harold Clurman and Cheryl Crawford. He made his Broadway debut in 1932's "Lost Boy". While working steadily on Broadway, he soon joined the Group Theatre (home of Method Acting, founded by Strasberg, Clurman and Crawford), along with Kazan and Clifford Odets among others. Odets began as an actor, soon became a world-famous playwright. He wrote the Group Theatre's first full-length play, "Awake and Sing", insisting Garfield play the son, which was a success for both Garfield and Odets. Odets wrote his next play "Golden Boy" specifically for Garfield, but when the Group Theater produced it, Garfield was not given the lead. That letdown prompted Garfield to turn to Hollywood, where he signed a seven year contract with Warner Brothers and made his film debut in an impactful supporting role in 1938's "Four Daughters". Garfield's performance incorporated a tormented inner life and mix of strength and sensitivity, the likes of which had never been seen before. It earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and stardom. Warners immediately realized they had a hot property, so they fast-tracked him to movie star status, starring him in A-list movies beginning with his next feature "They Made Me a Criminal" in 1939. Before long, Garfield filled the shoes of James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson as Warner Brothers’ top tough guy. He continued working steadily in films trough 1951, including "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Humoresque", "The Sea Wolf", "Destination Tokyo", "Force of Evil", "The Breaking Point", and "Body and Soul" in 1947 (which earned him his only Best Actor Oscar nomination).
Because of a weakened heart from having scarlet fever as a child, Garfield was rejected when he tried to enlist in the armed forces during World War II, so he and Bette Davis created the Hollywood Canteen where servicemen could eat, drink and dance with movie stars (they made the 1944 movie "Hollywood Canteen" at the Canteen). An outspoken liberal, Garfield publicly supported the Committee for the First Amendment, opposing HUAC's investigation of supposed communist activity, and in 1951 was called to testify before HUAC himself. He was never a communist but refused to name names and was subsequently blacklisted, never making another film. Pressured and followed by the FBI, Garfield was called again to appear before HUAC, who was trying to get him to testify against his wife (who had been a member of the communist party). The night before his testimony, John Garfield suffered a heart attack on May 21, 1952, killing him at the age of 39. The New York times reported that over 10,000 fans came to his funeral, making it the largest funeral since that of silent screen idol Rudolph Valentino in 1926. Garfield was married once, ending with his death. He had three children, including actors David Garfield and Julie Garfield. His last acting role was in a return to Broadway in the 1952 revival of Odets’ "Golden Boy", where he finally got to play the lead part that was written for him. Before Brando, Dean, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, there was John Garfield. Though not mentioned much today, Garfield was the screen's first rebel and antihero. He's an actor whose work I love.
In a sublimely spunky performance, Celeste Holm plays "Anne Dettrey", “Smith's Weekly's" fashion editor. A flirt who rolls with the punches, "Anne" is smitten with "Phil" from the start, and right off the bat one can see the delicious subtleties in Holm's performance by her reaction when she invites "Phil" to her party and he responds, "Can I bring my girl?". "Anne" seems to be a step ahead of everyone else, and is the only character not caught up in some way with prejudice. She’s so full of life and fun that one wonders why “Phil” doesn’t fall for her rather than “Kathy” (but who can say how love goes). A musical comedy actress, Holm was a long shot for the part, but true to Kazan's spot-on instinct for actors, he insisted on her for the role and as usual was right. Holm's standout performance earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award and Golden Globe.
As a child, New York City born Celeste Holm traveled throughout Europe and the US before settling in Chicago where she began performing and studied acting at the University of Chicago. She debuted on Broadway in 1938's "Gloriana", and continued working steadily, making a big splash as "Ado Annie" in the original 1943 Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, "Oklahoma!". In 1946 she signed with 20th Century Fox and made her film debut in the movie musical "Three Little Girls in Blue". That was followed by another movie musical, "Carnival in Costa Rica" in 1947, followed by "Gentleman's Agreement". In a career with just over 100 film and TV credits, Holm appeared in approximately two dozen films, including "High Society", "The Snake Pit", "The Tender Trap", "Three Men and a Baby", 1949's "Come to the Stable" (which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), and perhaps most famously, 1950's "All About Eve", for which she earned a third Best Actress nomination (I briefly wrote about her in my post on that classic). She appeared extensively on television, including "Falcon Crest", "Loving", "Archie Bunker's Place", "Cinderella", and her own short-lived series, "Honestly, Celeste!" in 1954. Holm’s true love was theater and she continued to work on Broadway throughout the 1950s and again in the 1970s. Her last Broadway appearance was in 1991's "I Hate Hamlet". She was married five times (divorced three, widowed once), including marriages to actors Wesley Addy and Ralph Nelson. Celeste Holm died in 2012 at the age of 95.
Anne Revere wonderfully plays “Mrs. Green”, “Phil’s” mother. While she gets most of the film’s “message” dialogue, Revere does well by it, creating a portrait of tough, no-nonsense woman who says it like it is. Revere's chemistry with her costars is such that she is completely believable as a mother to “Phil” and grandmother to “Tommy”, and this role earned her a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination.
New York City born Anne Revere (a direct descendant of Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere) began in theater, making it to Broadway with 1931's "The Great Barrington". Three shows later she appeared in 1933's "Double Door", and reprised her role in the 1934 film version, which was her film debut. After a return to Broadway, she ventured back to Hollywood for 1940's "One Crowded Night” and continued to work in Hollywood in small and supporting roles, often playing the mother of the film's star (including Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Alice Faye, Jennifer Jones, and even John Garfield). Prior to "Gentleman's Agreement", Revere earned two addition Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations (both paying mothers) for "The Song of Bernadette" in 1943, and winning the statue for "National Velvet" in 1944. Her other notable films include "Old Acquaintance", "The Thin Man Goes Home", "The Keys to the Kingdom", and "A Place in the Sun" (Revere is briefly mentioned in my post on that classic). A vocal critic of HUAC and a liberal, in 1951 Revere was called to testify before HUAC and refused to answer questions, resulting in her being blacklisted. She didn't appear in another film until "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" in 1970. Revere made some TV appearances, most notably in recurring roles on "Search for Tomorrow" and "Ryan's Hope" in 1977. She worked a bit on Broadway in the 1950's, and earned a Tony Award for her last Broadway appearance in 1960's "Toys in the Attic". She was married once for nearly fifty years, until her husband's death. Anne Revere died in 1990 at the age of 87.
June Havoc gives a memorable performance as “Elaine Wales”, “Phil’s” secretary. Today June Havoc is perhaps best remembered as the real-life sister of Gypsy Rose Lee, for their childhood was immortalized in the classic 1959 musical "Gypsy". The Canadian born Havoc began as "Baby June" in vaudeville, later appearing on Broadway. Other than appearing as herself in two 1918 silent short films, her first film was 1942's "Four Jacks and a Jill". She worked until 1989, accruing 59 film and TV credits (largely appearing on TV and in B-films). Some of her other films include "My Sister Eileen", "No Time for Love", "The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover", and her final film, "A Return to Salem's Lot" in 1987. As a member of the Committee for the First Amendment, she actively fought for freedom of speech, protesting against HUAC and their hearings, which was wrongly turned around to make it look like she was supporting the Communist Party rather than freedom of speech. Some feel that's what hurt her film career. She married three times. June Havoc died in 2010 at the age of 97.
Dean Stockwell is fabulous as “Tommy Green”, “Phil’s” young son. He has great rapport with both Peck and Revere, and expresses all the energy and inquisitiveness of childhood. For the role he earned a special Best Juvenile Actor Golden Globe Award. The son of entertainers, Los Angeles born Dean Stockwell made his Broadway debut at the age of seven in 1943's "The Innocent Voyage", which led to a contract with MGM. He quickly became a very successful child actor, appearing in films like "Anchors Aweigh", "Song of the Thin Man", "Kim", "The Boy with Green Hair", and "The Secret Garden". In 1956 he began to appear on television where he would work extensively in his 70 year career. Some of his later films include "Long Day's Journey into Night" with Katharine Hepburn, "Paris, Texas", "Dune", "Blue Velvet", "Compulsion", "The Player", and "Married to the Mob" in 1988, earning him his only Academy Award nomination (Best Supporting Actor). His television work includes recurring roles on "Dr. Kildare", "Captain Planet and the Planeteers", "Street Gear", "The Tony Danza Show", "JAG", "Battlestar Galactica", and as "Admiral Al Calavicci" on "Quantum Leap", which earned him four Emmy Award nominations. His final appearance was in the 2015 film "Entertainment". He was married and divorced twice, including his first marriage to actress Millie Perkins. His father was singer/actor Harry Stockwell (the voice of "Prince Charming" in Walt Disney’s animated classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"), and his older brother was actor Guy Stockwell. Dean Stockwell died on November 7, 2021 at the age of 85.
Film fans might recognize Albert Dekker, who plays publisher "John Minify", from other films such as "Dr. Cyclops", "East of Eden", "The Killers", "The Wild Bunch", and "Kiss me Deadly". A Democrat, he won a seat in the California State Assembly in 1944, and was outspoken against Senator Joseph McCarthy, who alongside HUAC was unscrupulously pursing alleged Communists. As a result, Dekker was blacklisted. During his blacklist, he returned to Broadway (where his career began), and also worked on television. He was married once. Albert Dekker died in 1968 at the age of 62.
If you are watching the films on this blog, you might recognize Sam Jaffe, who gives a marvelous performance as "Professor Fred Lieberman" in the scene at the party with "Phil" and "Kathy". He too was blacklisted during the 1950s, limiting his work in films. Jaffe has appeared (so far) in two previous films on here, "Ben-Hur" and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" where you can ream more about this fine character actor.
In addition to wins for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress, and nominations for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay, "Gentleman's Agreement" was also nominated for a Best Editing Oscar (Harmon Jones).
A powerhouse of emotions arise in this enthralling social drama whose strength lies in how it invisibly prompts its viewer to question their own personal prejudices. Enjoy the potently entertaining, “Gentleman’s Agreement”!
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