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Welcome to the Movies!

 

   



In the advertisement, right:

Now playing! National Theatre, Second Avenue and Houston Street,
Tel. Gramercy 5-8331.

The World Premier of the Newest Yiddish Movie

Leo Fuchs in the

"American Matchmaker"

together with an all-star cast.


 

The Cast:
Leo Fuchs ... Nat Silver/Uncle Shya
Judith Abarbanel ... Judith Aarons
Yudl Dubinsky ... Maurice
Mae Schoenfeld Anna Guskin ... Elvie Silver
Celia Boodkin ... Nat's Mother
  Rosetta Bialis ... Mrs. Aarons
Abraham Lax ... Simon P. Schwalbenrock
 Mae Schoenfeld Esther Adler ...  
Mae Schoenfeld M. Henig ...  
 Mae Schoenfeld Helen Appel ...  
Sarah Krohner ...  
 Mae Schoenfeld I. Arco ...  
Mae Schoenfeld M. Lerner ...  
Mae Schoenfeld Misha Boodkin ...  
Vera Luboff ...  
Charles Cohen ...  
Mae Schoenfeld William Mercur ...  
Bernard Gailing ...  
Jacob Mestel ...  
Mae Schoenfeld S. Gold ...  
Maurice Schwartz ...  
Abe Gross ...  
Arthur Winters ...  
Mae Schoenfeld Miriam Grossman ...  
Mae Schoenfeld Arianne Ulmer ...  


AMERIKANER SHATKHN
(AMERICAN MATCHMAKER)
1940, 87 minutes, B & W
Produced and Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Screenplay by S. Castle
Music and Lyrics by Sam Morgenstern and William Mercur
Filmed in Bronx, New York
First released in the United States
on May 6, 1940

Leo Fuchs, known on Second Avenue as "the Yiddish Fred Astaire," plays an elegant and eligible bachelor who can never seem to close the marriage deal. Edgar G. Ulmer's last Yiddish movie was also his most modern, an art deco romantic comedy about male ambivalence and Jewish assimilation. With its urbane, neurotic hero, American Matchmaker looks ahead to the films of Woody Allen ...
-- The National Center for Jewish Film
 

Nat Silver has been engaged seven times already. This time, his eighth, he's really going to get married. But a visitor shows up, Shirley's old boyfriend. With a gun ! He'll kill himself unless he can have Shirley back, and Nat graciously gives in. According to Nat's mother, his Uncle Shya was unlucky at love but lucky as a matchmaker, and Nat is just like Shya. Nat tells his family he's going to Italy. But he remains in New York and sets himself up with a new name and new business, Nat Gold, Advisor in Human Relations...

-- Written by David Steele for www.imdb.com.

This, the last of Ulmer's Yiddish quartet, is probably the funniest of all Yiddish comedies and the humor holds up quite well even today. With the German Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland in 1939 Jewish film production there came to a screeching halt but there was still a large Yiddish audience in New York and what they wanted was escape, not realism. American Shadchen fit the bill perfectly and was the last Yiddish box-office hit although a few more Yiddish films were still to be made.

 


The basic situation is that of a very handsome and well-off Mama's boy, Nat Silver, whose mother has been trying to get him married off without success, because the fastidious young man always finds some fatal fault with every potential marriage prospect. He is also afraid, although he is classically tall, dark, and handsome, a true Jewish Adonis -- that women are only interested in him for his money. The life style we see in the film is that of upper crust nouveau-riche New York Jewish society with all the trappings -- butlers, maids, chauffeurs, and luxurious apartments in the best part of town. The Jews depicted in the film are the "all-rightnik" type trying to act as American as possible by liberally salting their down-home Yiddish with the latest English slang. The butchered English we hear throughout is in fact one of the main sources of the humor of the film, which still works today, probably even for non-Jewish audiences. Moreover, even though this is basically a Yiddish language picture, there is enough English -- or rather "Yinglish" -- scattered throughout, so that the story line is pretty much clear even without the information supplied by the English sub-titles.

The hero, Nathan, or "Nat" Silver, decides that he is so experienced in matchmaking -- having been involved in so many mismatches himself --the he would probably make a pretty good Shadchen, or matchmaker, on his own. So, he changes his name from Silver to Gold! -- sets up a matchmaking office, puts out a classy Yiddish shingle, and goes into business. This is also a way of escaping from the clutches of his overbearing Jewish mother.

He is indeed very successful and soon acquires a reputation as the best Jewish matchmaker in New York City -- so successful, in fact, that the other envious shadchens picket his office with protest signs in Yiddish claiming that he is monopolizing the trade!

Now comes the heart of the story. One day a very funny Jewish mother brings her very attractive Jewish daughter Judith (Judith Abarbanel) in to Mr. Gold's office to find a match but she, the daughter, finds herself very attracted to the matchmaker. The mother too "kvells" over him gushing like a fountain every time she sees him, constantly repeating the absolutely side-splitting English phrase: "Mister GoOld -- you're soOoo nice!" -- it's all, of course, in the way she says it, but a guaranteed crackup every time!

It takes a good while for the conscientious "Gold" to get the picture for he is so obsessed with carrying out his duty -- which is to say, fixing his client up with a proper marriage partner (other than himself, of course)) -- that he fails to take notice of the obvious moon eyes both Mother and daughter are directing his way -- all but falling over him physically. With numerous hilarious double-entendre exchanges along the way this is nothing but delectable non-stop rib-tickling screen comedy all the way. Matchmaker Gold does, of course, finally succumb to the combined charms of mother and daughter, but only after a sequence of truly risible situations in a film which is nothing but fun from beginning to end.

At the same time American Matchmaker is a good natured but nevertheless penetrating satire of the efforts of the nouveau rich Jews of the time to be "more American than Thou" in this Golden Land which has been treating them so well, far beyond their wildest expectations. Overall this picture is just one heckuvva funny old-time comedy very much in line with the Hollywood Screwball Comedy tradition of the thirties, but with an extremely Kosher twist -- also in passing, a goldmine for the social anthropologist, and, as far as mise-en-scene is concerned, unquestionably one of Ulmer's finest all around films. "Nat Silver" was played by Leo Fuchs. Actress Judith Abarbanel used her own first name for the role of Judith Aarons, the charming client who falls in love with the matchmaker, and, her mother, Mrs. Aarons, who nearly steals the show whenever she's on, was played by Rosetta Bialis.

Written for the 2008 Barbican Yiddish retrospective in London.

-- by alexdeleonfilm, www.imbd.com.


You can see a film clip of this movie:
 

 


 

 



Cast listings courtesy of www.imdb.com.
 

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