• U.S.

Cinema: New Picture, Nov. 17, 1947

2 minute read

Gentleman’s Agreement (20th Century-Fox) is an important experiment, honestly approached and successfully brought off. A middling-fair argumentative novel, in which Author Laura Z. Hobson suggested a way to fight certain kinds of anti-Semitism in the U.S., has been made into an almost overpowering polemical film.

The screenplay follows the novel closely. Gregory Peck is assigned by a magazine to write a series of articles on antiSemitism. To gather material, he decides to pretend to be a Jew for a few months. In a few weeks he suffers shocks that crack up his love affair, and, almost, his personality. But all ends well with him—if not with the world.

Some moviegoers may object to the antiphony of sermonizing and lovemaking, but few will deny that the two themes have been cleverly harmonized. The love story itself is one of the most believable ever screened.

Producer Darryl Zanuck made Agreement his “personal production” (i.e., his bid for the 1947 Academy Award) and gave it everything—notably Moss Hart, who has written a first-rate scenario, and Elia Kazan, who has richly fulfilled his high directorial promise of Boomerang! Kazan’s sure hand has bottled John Garfield’s carbonated talents into a clear, constrained performance as the hero’s Jewish friend; he has massaged Gregory Peck’s normally musclebound manner into a good piece of acting as the journalist hero; and he has guided Dorothy McGuire’s considerable talents through an adroitly banked and graded performance as the intelligent but question-begging heroine.

With all its crusading and its stout effort to present a serious social problem to a mass audience, the film as a whole is better than the solution it offers. Like the novel, the movie contends that decent, intelligent people, who know better than to be anti-Semitic but take no militant steps to stamp out the social weed, are chiefly to blame for its hardy growth.

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