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Welcome to the Movies!


  The Cast:    
Esther Field ... Esther Waldman
Max Rosenblatt ... Solomon Waldman
Mae Schoenfeld Gertrude Krause ... Anna
Simon Wolf ... Getzel Boxer
Leon Seidenberg ...  
Paula Lubelska ... Breindl 'Beatrice' Boxer
Vera Lubow ...  
Arthur Winters ... Izzie
Louis Goldstein ...  
Jack Shargel ...  
William Epstein ...  
Solomon Krause ...  
Mae Schoenfeld Sam Lehrer ...  
Mae Schoenfeld Philip Marks ...  


After Esther Waldman, a widowed Jewish immigrant living in New York who owns a small store, lights candles on Sabbath eve, her daughter Annie excitedly exhibits a diamond ring, which the new neighbor boy, Hymie Boxer, gave her, but Esther urges her daughter to return it. Hymie's father Getzel, a bungler, comes to the Waldmans' apartment, and impressed with the traditional Sabbath atmosphere, he laments that his own wife Breindel is a "mother of today," who cares more about card games than the Sabbath. After Esther's son Solomon, a cantor, arrives, Hymie comes in out-of-breath, followed by a jewelry store owner and a police officer, who say they pursued a thief to the building. Hymie puts stolen jewelry into Solomon's pocket and escapes through a window. Although Solomon is arrested, Hymie's criminal cohorts are afraid that Solomon can prove he was in the synagogue during the robbery, so Hymie, following their orders, shoots Solomon when he is released on bail. As Solomon recovers in the hospital, he tells the newspapers that he thinks Hymie was involved. Hymie then implores his sister Evelyn to make Solomon fall in love with her so that he will not testify against him. Evelyn visits Solomon in the hospital, and a few days later they have fallen in love with each other. Esther gives a small party to celebrate Solomon's return, but when Annie brings Hymie, Esther orders him to leave. Solomon asks her not to chase his guests away, and Esther leaves in anger. Hymie, who has been threatened by his gang for bungling the attempted murder, convinces Annie to elope with him so that he can get out of town. When Esther learns of this, she says that though the heart may break, one mustn't cry. As Solomon practices his singing before Yom Kippur , the Day of Atonement, Evelyn convinces him that if he wants to marry her, he must quit as a cantor and attempt a career singing in concerts and over the radio. Esther then faces another blow when Solomon tells her that he will no longer be a cantor. Four weeks after Annie and Hymie have eloped, Esther receives a telegram from a lawyer in Buffalo, who says that Annie was arrested when Hymie attempted a holdup of a store and a watchman was killed. Esther visits Annie in jail and vows to sell her store to get cash to pay for Annie's legal expenses, but before she returns, Evelyn convinces Solomon to sell the store for money so that they can elope. Esther sees Solomon just before he is to leave and urges him not to marry Evelyn, but he refuses to listen and throws her down when she tries to block his path. Esther loses her sight in the accident, and Getzel takes care of her. Annie is freed because she did not know about the robbery, while Hymie is sentenced to death in the electric chair. During his confession to a rabbi, he says that parents should not let their children be independent when they are too young, because that is the path to crime. When Breindel visits, Hymie tells her that because she neglected him to play cards and go to parties, he was induced to find acquaintances from the street, and he started to steal. Both Annie and Solomon, who is very contrite, visit Esther, and she says that a mother cannot stay angry with her children. Solomon says that doctors have told him that her blindness may only be temporary, and Evelyn asks Esther's forgiveness. Breindel confesses that she has paid the price for her sins, and Esther convinces Getzel to forgive her. Solomon says that he will become a cantor again, and he sings the prayer for Yom Kippur .


(Mothers of Today)
Directed by Henry Lynn
Written by Henry Lynn, Simon Wolf (Story)
Music by Leon Feld
85 minutes, B & W
Released in the United States on March 1, 1939.

Mothers of Today includes the sole motion picture performance of radio star Esther Field, who was well-known on the radio airwaves of the 1930's as the 'Yidishe Mama.' The film exemplifies the Yiddish film genre of shund, a brand of popular entertainment which appealed to working-class Jewish-American immigrant audiences with broadly-drawn, sentimental stories that reflected the daily life and culture of a distinctly American Yiddish community. While the shund films were invariably low-budget (and lowbrow) affairs, these humble productions formed an important part of life in the United States for their audience. For actresses such as Field or Celia Adler (star of Where is My Child?, also directed by Lynn in 1939), shund offered one of the few opportunities to play strong leading roles. In retrospect, Mothers of Today is an important cultural artifact expressing the anxieties of the families faced with a younger generation's increasing assimilation. Shund often dealt with the plight of the Jewish mother, recognizing the important role women played in Jewish family life during the difficult period of immigration. Such is the case with Mothers of Today, in which Field plays a mother coping with her children's troubles resulting from their straying from Jewish tradition. In one subplot, a cantor's son led astray by a woman of "questionable morality" becomes involved with gangsters and ends up stealing the deed to his mother's store. "Heavy tragedy, which seems to be an essential basis of all Yiddish dramas, is done to a turn in this new film and it should please the dyed-in-the-wool Yiddish fans. Produced on a small budget with a scurried shooting schedule, the film has considerable merit. Cast members, with the exception of the talented Esther Field, were recruited from the stage for their initial appearance on the screen, and they give Miss Field adequate support. Henry Lynn directs the film feelingly.

-Film Daily, 1939 (from The National Cener of Jewish Films)




Here is a flip clip from the movie.




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