Museum of the Yiddish Theatre
Rose Greenfield and Lazar Freed in a scene.
Hopkinson Theatre Books Jewish Films for Summer
The Hopkinson Theater, Hopkinson and Pitkin Aves., which has been a legitimate Jewish playhouse for 15 years, will be converted into a motion picture theater for the summer. The theatre opens this Friday under its new policy with "Love and Sacrifice," [the] latest Yiddish feature-length talking picture produced by Joseph Seiden.
"Love and Sacrifice" is the first of a series
of Jewish talkies to be produced by Seiden as part of his plan for
introducing all-Yiddish picture programs, including newsreels and
short subjects, locally. Directed by George Roland, it is a story of
modern Jewish-American life, played by prominent Yiddish stage
performers, Lazar Freed, late star of "Yoshe Kalb," heads the cast,
supported by Rose Greenfield, Annie Thomashefsky, William Schwartz,
Esther Salzman, Louis Kramer, Arthur Winters, Rae Schneier and Anna
Here is an interesting article that appeared in the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Daily Eagle on April 7, 1936, about the producer, Joseph Seiden, as well as the aforementioned film:
MOVIE-MAKER JOE SEIDEN KEEPS
3-ROOM STUDIO HUMMING;
To gain admittance to the Seiden Studios of the Talking Picture -- located in a three-room, ramshackle office at 33 W. 60th St., Manhattan, and owned and operated by Joe Seiden of Brooklyn -- you first have to convince Mr. Seiden, or his front-line defense, that you have not come to dun him for the rent, the phone bill or to collect the next payment on the furnishings.
Furthermore, Mr. Seiden is an artiste, a movie magnate of extreme sensitivity, and you might be interrupting him in the midst of making a very stupendous and colossal masterpiece. And unlike his vaunted competitors in Hollywood, Mr. Seiden has only one vice-president to do business with the rabble -- a very capable chap who also serves as cameraman, assistant director, film-cutter and errand boy.
Briefly, there's probably no movie executive in the world who takes himself less seriously than Joe Seiden. He's Potash and Perlmutter rolled into one. And his sense of humor, of the ridiculous, would make Jack Benny sound like a professional mourner.
Pray be Seated
"Sit!" beams Mr. Seiden, after his assistant has been assured that the visitor is O.K. and has dug Mr. Seiden out of the back room -- whither he goes to dodge creditor. "Sit down and have a laugh. If you can't laugh, there's no story here. I have been convinced, in 28 years in the motion-picture industry, that if you can't laugh at yourself, it's going to be a tough life."
The Seiden Studios of the Talking Picture consists of one "sound stage" -- a room about the size of the average, good-sized phone booth -- a laboratory, which houses the sound truck and camera, and a combination office and dressing room for the cast. The telephone is padlocked at all times, and Mr. Seiden keeps the key.
The business of the S.S. of the T.P. is the making of Yiddish dialogue pictures. To Mr. Seiden's knowledge, they are the only company in the game, and they have the market sewed up. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles -- the big centers of the Jewish population in the United States -- grab up every opus they produce.
Three Weeks Per Picture
"Love and Sacrifice," a tremendous thriller, is the latest production from the talents of Cineman Seiden. It took two weeks to make, had a cast of hundreds -- friends of the management -- and cost $3,000.
"All on the cuff," said Joe. "It cost a bit more than the average picture, but then," with a pseudo-Hollywood wave of the arms, "this was a gigantic superproduction. We can turn them out in a week, if necessary."
With a twinkle that's as infectious as the springtime, Joe tells how he made "Love and Sacrifice."
"On March 9, I didn't have the faintest idea for a story. And the Passover, three weeks away -- our best season. Then, that Saturday, in a bookstore on Allen St., I found this dog-eared little booklet. It was out-of-date, had been printed in Poland and was called, 'Love and Passion.'
"I bought 'Love and Passion' for 20 cents, spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday rewriting it -- oh, yes. I do my own scenario -- and on Monday started casting. I get my casts very easily. I hang around the beaneries down on 2nd Avenue; there's always an actor who wants to get in the movies. I don't pay him nothing. Over a cup of coffee. I give him a smile and a promise, and he's willing."
The Camera Works
From there on in, the rest is easy. Mr. Seiden has an old camera that works swell. His brother-in-law is in the costuming business; that takes care of that. Mob scenes are "shot" on Saturday afternoons and Sundays; all Joe's friends -- who like to be in the movies -- are glad to come around and carry a spear or hiss, shout and applaud at the right moments.
Already, the Clinton Theater, at 80 Clinton St., Manhattan, has its marquee decorated for "Love and Sacrifice" -- Joe thought "Sacrifice" would be better than "Passion" -- although the picture is still in the cutting room. Oh yes, Joe does the cutting, too.
A little trouble was encountered in the shooting of "Love and Sacrifice." Halfway through, the leading lady sprained her ankle and had to stay seated. That was a tough one, but Joe fixed it. He rewrote the last part of the scenario, so that all her parts would be close-ups -- taken while she sat at home.
The major part of the sets are made up from furniture from Mr. Seiden's own home at 1134 E. 29th Street.
"My wife's wild," he confided to the reporter. "I got the curtains and a lot of other junk here, and our own home looks like a barracks. I bring it over in the car."
His Own Distributor
Distributing, of course, is done by Mr. Seiden. When the film is complete, he jumps a train for Chicago, peddles it there and makes arrangements for sending it further west. Then back to New York, to battle the creditors and dig up another story.
If this new vehicle is a success -- and Joe thinks it'll be a wow -- he plans to expand a bit. He's already rented an adjoining loft for ten bucks and has an agreement with Judge Jonah Goldstein for the loan of his gavel in case there are any court scenes.
Joe Seiden has never known another business. He has had his ups and downs; he was with Hoover in France in the work of reconstruction after the war and filmed the whole business; for years he took all the prizefight movies and has photos of himself lounging with Dempsey, Tunney and all the big names. Two years ago, he was on Broadway.
"And I'll be back!" he assures. "Nothing's in hock yet. You only have to click once in this racket, and when I do, I'll be in Radio City."
And somehow, when you look at the dingy office-studio, at greasepaint mixed with electric cable, at lunches sent in from the drugstore on the corner, at the constant smile on Joe Seiden's cheerful face, you sort of turn over inside and decide, by golly, he's right!
Here is a short video clip from "Love and Sacrifice."
Cast listings courtesy of www.imdb.com.
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