This is one of the most hilarious unintentional lines in cinema. The whole setup could indeed be a delightful satirical comedy. But of course, it`s deadly. Phil finds nasty little incidents of anti-Semitism everywhere: his bouncer objects to him putting a Jewish name on his mailbox in the building (thus advertising for the building to accommodate Jews) and, through gossip with janitors, he spreads the news that he is Jewish and indirectly subjects Phil`s son to great taunts at school. Phil discovers that his secretary, Miss Wales, is Jewish and that she has changed her name to get a job (like Hobson), but also that she is a detestable Jew who believes in her heart in her own inferiority. The magazine`s intelligent and funny art director, Anne Dettrey (Celeste Holm), becomes a friend and admires his plan to uncover anti-Semitism, but like Miss Wales and most people in the office don`t realize he`s not Jewish. In 1947, the Oscar for Best Picture went to Gentleman`s Agreement with Gregory Peck as a campaign reporter. The awards for Best Director were also received by Elia Kazan and Best Supporting Actress to Celeste Holm. At first glance, it looks like an “issue movie” rather worthy of the 40s, the kind of film that the Academy should, according to her, honor.
Yet gentleman`s Agreement is still a captivating, fascinating, somewhat boring film, alternately naïve and very sharp, fascinating for what it lets in and out. It`s about the anti-Semitism of prosperous post-war America and the insidious way jews were excluded from high-level social clubs, resorts, and, of course, jobs. There have been no official bans, only a nod and wink and a “gentleman`s agreement” between non-Jews of conservative wasps that they know the kind of people they want to be associated with. This is the kind of everyday prejudice that Groucho Marx elegantly retaliated with his joke that he didn`t want to join a club that would have him as a member. The Bestseller Gentleman`s Agreement was published in Cosmopolitan (November 1946-February 1947) before being published in book form. In an interview with Cosmopolitan in July 1947, author Laura Z. Hobson said, “What was I trying to do with this book? I believe that a woman who wrote to me wrote it in two wonderful sentences. .
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