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Welcome to the Movies!


This Yiddish film was produced by Abraham Leff. It was released in the U.S.
on November 23, 1937.

The following review of the Yiddish talkie, "Vu iz mayn kind?," which was written by Ab. Cahan  for the Yiddish Forward newspaper, was published in November 26, 1937.
  The Cast:    
Celia Adler ... Esther Liebman
Morris Strassberg ... Dr. F. Reisner
Morris Silberkasten ... Morris Gross
Anna Lillian ... Alice Gross
Mischa Stutchkoff ... Dr. Victor Gross, né Josef Lieberman
Mae Schoenfeld Ceril Arnon ... Julia Reisner
Ruben Wendorf ... Elick (the postman)
Mae Schoenfeld Blanche Bernstein ... Malka (housekeeper)
Mae Schoenfeld Leo Schechtman ... Victor, as a boy
Mae Schoenfeld Solomon Steinberg ... Anderson (orphanage superintendent)
Mae Schoenfeld Esther Gerber ... Margaret (Anderson's office nurse)
Mae Schoenfeld Anne G. Sterling ... Orphan (as Chana Sterling)

Celia Adler in "Where Is My Child?"


Tuesday evening, the 23rd of November, in the Century Theatre (before known as the Folks Theatre), on Second Avenue and 12th Street, there was played a Yiddish talkie under the name, "Where is My Child?," with Celia Adler in the main role.

The Yiddish talkie was the important part of a production that also had contained the usual features of today's American talkies.

"Where is My Child?" is a melodrama authored by [William] Siegel and Steinberg. It is a shund story of a quite primitive sort; shund absolutely, without the smallest pretension of being something else. As a shund play, this is a very exciting feat. From the point of view of people who love such subjects, it is doubly breathtaking. I therefore believe that the talkie has a chance at a long life.

Celia Adler, who belongs to a stage of a high sort, here has played in harmony with the melodramatic atmosphere that belongs to the play through and through. But Celia Adler demonstrates a lot of personal charm and magnetism, and with this charm and grace makes Batem's every second of her presence in the production. Her pleasant and sympathetic stage personality begins on the quite cheap history to a high tone and crowns her with a higher dignity.

The result is that the interest in the shund becomes transformed into an interest of a delicate content. There is an effect in which poetic impressions are not absent. Simply put:  Without Celia Adler, the shund character would have been more vigilant and cheaper. With her, a masculinity has been created for lovers of better plays, in many moments to forget what kind of fabric the talkie is woven into, and to have ... minutes of aesthetic genius.


The story consists of the following:

From the old country a couple of people with a child travel to America. The husband is drowned on the way. The mother with her child arrives in New York. She is miserable, she leads a bitter struggle for her existence with her child, until she enters her child into an orphanage. She is green, and unfortunately she does not fully understand what is going on around her. The result is that she signs a contract that she submits the child to the institution. She does not understand what she has signed, and before long the institution gives the child away to a rich childless couple.  She was under the impression that everything is only temporary. However, when she wants to see her child, she shows up, and she discovers that she has no rights to demand anything; that she renounced all of her rights to the child. The mother doesn't understand; she doesn't want to understand this. She must see her child! Without this her life is unhappy. The question for her becomes a question of life and death. With each step, with her every nerve, she devotes herself to one task, to one goal, to one interest: to find her child. She will go from house to house, literally to every dwelling in the big city of New York; she will go and with all her five senses, with every subtlety that nature has given her, she will seek and destroy until she finds her child.

Where is her child? The weak, exhausted woman is an embodiment of the question. And as Celia Adler played the role, the question permeated everyone present. And to everyone present in the theatre on that evening, the whole world was incarnated in the problem in which it the existence of the bereaved seeking mother was embodied. The exhausted woman became, in a sense, the possessor of a supernatural power.

Two or three years have passed in this place. She finally reached her goal, she approached the house where her child is located.

The rich, childless family raised him. He did them all good. The couple became bound to him. And educating the stranger child, they have instilled in themselves a habit of parenthood, a love of being father and mother, he is the eye in their head; he is the object of their dream. To lose this angel is the greatest tragedy that they could imagine. But the mother is here, the child is alive. She does not recognize him completely, but as if with a blind sense, she still recognizes him. Just as her motherly love would be an angelic spirit, which does not instill in her an instinct, more than a feeling that this is her child.


Her presence becomes dangerous for the rich people. And a doctor, a house friend, by name of Reisner, who possesses a lot more cunning than conscience, gives advice: he will telephone the mental institution. The superintendent will sell his own mother for money. In short order, an ambulance comes with two guards, and they take the woman, the true mother of the disappeared child, who is a crazy person.

Twenty years goes by. She is not crazy, but they keep her as a crazy person. She is terribly obsolete, terrified and broken. However the thoughts about her child keeps her ever young, always strong, always powerful.

One of the young doctors from the asylum is a sympathetic young man with a heart filled for love for people. He devotes himself to his work for the unfortunate with all his might. He is a child of rich parents, and when he gets a free hour he tells of terrible injustices, of bloody immigrants who surround him there. Many of the patients are just not crazy, he says. Probably someone had a special interest in getting rid of them. Therefore, she was made crazy.

He is especially interested in the heartbreaking fate, in this heaven-crying injustice of which one of his patients is a victim.

Now we need the reader of the "Forward" to reveal the secret and to explain who the young man is, and who the people are that he considers his parents? The reader of the "Forward" knows this without me. The sympathetic, young doctor is naturally no other than her child, who the unfortunate mother was searching for her entire life. He asks the woman whom he calls mother for permission to bring his poor patient home, to let her relax.


And the writer of the play made the false mother a good-hearted and honest woman. She agrees immediately. She obviously does not know who the patient is. People also have remarked the following: in the entire intrigue she plays a passive role, not anything active. The leader of the murderous bandit plan was most notably the aforementioned doctor and the false father.

When the young doctor brings the unfortunate woman to his "parents," his "father" and the doctor was stunned and startled. The unfortunate woman does not recognize anyone, does not remember anything clearly, as if the twenty years had stuffed all her abilities and feelings. Then, when she spoke the name, "Dr. Reisner," her memories began to wake up, and to touch a vague memory of a distant, distant past. Shortly, little by little, she recognizes and understands everything here that was happening around her. She cries, she speaks in a vehtog tenor. The false father, and mainly the doctor, deny that they know who she is. They remain hard and cold; scared, but firmly determined, is their roguish intent. However ... it is not without reason that the architects of the shund play made the false mother of a woman with a golden soul. She immediately begins to speak her conscience. She goes to the victim of the stupid scam and says to her: "This is your son, your son. You are his true mother ..." And ... however, why do you need the "and"? The reader already understands that the rest is as good as the one who writes these lines.

We would like to make one more comment: The fact that the unhappy woman has virtually no recollection of what happened to her twenty years ago, though she is absolutely not crazy, is an integral part of the whole affair. If the woman was not really crazy, she would need to remember every detail, every crumb. Twenty years is an eternity through which one forgets the most important interests of one's life, only in a melodrama from melodrama land ...

However, as the story goes:  It's exciting to have a shore. The crowd sits like swallows, and I can imagine that many eyes were closed with tears.

*   *   *

The actors in the film, "Where is My Child?" are: Annie Libin as the false mother; Morris Strassberg as Dr. Reisner; Ruben Wendorf in a comic role as a postman; Morris Silberkasten as the husband of the childless woman; Blanche Bernstein as Malka, the housekeeper, who marries the postman; Mischa Shtutchkoff as the sympathetic young doctor; Leo Schachtman, as the disappeared baby (from whom developed the young doctor); Solomon Steinberg, as the superintendent of the hospital; Ceril Arnon, as the young doctor's bride, and Esther Gerber as the nurse.

We have already spoken about Celia Adler. Wendorf plays his comic role in a successful and acceptable manner.

The other actors are satisfactory.

Morris Strassberg I have seen in better roles in a better manner. Here he has the role of the main "villain," the main scoundrel of the play. In his acting lies the entire weight of the shund.

Mischa Stutchkoff has a sympathetic role, and he plays it sympathetically.

As far as the technical side of the talkie is concerned, this has generally been a success. For those who do not understand Yiddish, English "titles" are given, and they are certainly a success. The letters are large and clear, and they do not flutter along with the images.

The talkie was directed by Abraham Leff and Henry Lynn.

Here is a short video clip from "Where is My Child?"


Cast listings courtesy of

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