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This Yiddish film was produced by Joseph Seiden, with music by Sholom Secunda. It was released in the U.S. on September 27, 1940. It was filmed in Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA.

 

The Cast:
 
  Max Badin ... Michel
Esther Field ... Chana
Mae Schoenfeld Izidor Frankel ...  
  Lazar Freed ... Mendel
Eddie Friedlander ... Danny
Rose Greenfield ... Mollie
Irving Jacobson ... David
  Paula Lubelska ... Jennie
 Mae Schoenfeld Herman Rosen ...  
Mae Schoenfeld ... Shlumit
Muni Serebroff ... Morris
David Yanover ... Harele

 

 

 

 

The following film review was written by M. Young for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, and it first appeared in print on October 4, 1940. Here the English translation of the review:

"Eli Eli" -- A Yiddish Talkie About Relationships Between Parents and Their Children

Esther Field, Lazar Freed and Muni Serebroff in Main Roles

by M. Young

In the Yiddish talkie that is called, "Eli Eli," the famous song when a "Jewish mother" becomes a threat when she begins to sing, "Tell Me Why You Left Me" (Ale eli lama ezbatani), but then there was a sad song about mothers. From the new talkie, which is called "Eli Eli," we learn that parents do everything for their children, but children for their parents -- that, alas and alack, it is necessary to receive assistance from children!

This sad fact many people have known for a long time, but the hero of the talkie, "Eli Eli," Mendel the farmer, and his wife Chana, do not know it. So the sheriff comes and informs him that he will take over the farm if he does not pay the mortgage, but that does not frighten Mendel, even though he has no money. The foolish farmer feels that his son the doctor in New York, for whom he sacrificed so much, and his daughter in Philadelphia, for whom he sacrificed less -- they, he assures himself, ... will pay the mortgage. Understand that the children do not pay, and he loses the farm.

It is interesting to know what would have happened to the two elderly people had there not been a law that children must support their parents. Because according to the children's words, they take in their parents only because the law forces them to.

And here comes the famous suffering of the parents. The son, the doctor, and the daughter-in-law offends the mother, and the daughter, the shrew, abuses the father.  They have one friend -- the old farmer Michel, their neighbor. Michel, who does not have any children, is good to him. He has money, he has a farm and no one throws his age at him.

Michel comes to his friend Mendel in Philadelphia and leaves him fifty dollars. Soon Mendel takes five dollars and sends it away to the old woman, that she should buy the doctor a present for his birthday (fort a tate). This gives the son the opportunity to evict his mother from his office with a present, because he is embarrassed by her in front of  his patients. Then Mendel buys a "sweepstake ticket," and the daughter wants to know where he got the money from, and he doesn't want to say. However it would have been better if he had said yes.

The daughter has a boy; did his mother succeed? The boy and the thief take the rent money and drive off with his girl to Atlantic City for the weekend. Meanwhile, the ruthless landlord comes for the rent, and the theft is discovered. Who is suspected? The father (now it is clear why the good farmer Michel has taken a trip to Philadelphia and left Mendele fifty dollars.) Certainly the daughter would be able to sent her father to prison, however, she nevertheless has a Jewish heart. She sends him away to an old-age home. Meanwhile the mother becomes very ill, and the only thing that can save her is that she should start living again as she once did. Mendel runs off to his old friend Michel to buy the farm back. It turns out that notwithstanding the fact that Michel did not have any children to take care of him over the years, he nevertheless died. But his death, like the death of all fine men, was not in vain: he left all his possessions to his friend Mendel.

This scene ends with a "Father's Day" party with the old folks at the farm. All the children came, bringing presents and kissing their elder father. Everyone was happy, and the mother sings a beautiful song that is called, "Respect Your Mother and Father," and -- the dear son, the doctor, must give two-thousand dollars by the end of the year, otherwise he will lose the house.

What do you think -- will the father give it? Surely he will give it. And this, according to our understanding, is the moral of history: a father can never be taught.

Lazar Feed plays the role of the father, the farmer, who suffers so much. We must say that we already have seen Freed's suffering a lot beautifully in especially good plays. He somehow tries to create a character, but he has none of that, it gives him little of that.

The mother is played by Esther Field, the actress who is known as "The Yiddish Mother." All we can say about her playing is that there are probably such mothers in life, but on stage we are much better off.

Muni Serebroff plays the bad son, and Rose Greenfield, the bad daughter, Paula Lubelska is the bad daughter-in-law, and David Yanover -- the son-in-law, and Eddie Friedlander plays the bad boy.

In short, there are a lot of bad people in "Eli Eli." Not bad is Max Badin as Michel, the childless farmer. He says that he is pious and does not eat before prayer, but he does not see it.

 

 


The comic scenes in the picture are played by Irving Jacobson and Mae Schoenfeld. This is the famous comic Irving Jacobson and Mae Schoenfeld. This is the famous comic pair from the Yiddish plays, with the only difference being that they are less focused on the action than on the lively stage.

In the end, we wanted to know one thing: What happened to Mendel the farmer's other son in Chicago? In the beginning of the picture we hear that there is a son in Chicago, and he is ill. Nothing more is heard about him, absolutely nothing. He is missing, he is not missing, but anyway we would like to know what he is doing, and why he is not writing a postcard.


Here is a short video clip from the film.

(with Irving Jacobson and Mae Schoenfeld)


 

 



Cast listings courtesy of www.imdb.com. Clip courtesy of Sam Kortnicki.
 

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