Program Details

Coming to Terms: Hollywood's Unease With Its Jewish Self

Kurt F. Stone
Movies / History

Course Description

As just about any film buff knows, with one exception (Twentieth Century's Darryl F. Zanuck), all the major Hollywood studios were created by Jewish men who hailed from Eastern Europe. And yet, such giants as Mayer, Goldwyn, Cohen (Columbia), Zukor (Paramount), Warner and Laemlle (Universal) rarely, if ever, made films with recognizable Jewish themes or obviously Jewish characters. Why this is can be endlessly debated. And yet, when they did make a "Jewish film," it often didn't even star a Jewish actor or actress. In the post-war years, the "new" Hollywood began turning out more and more films with Jewish characters and obviously Jewish actors. Again, why this became so is a topic for discussion and debate. In this series, participants will watch four movies ranging from 1961 to 2010 and see the how producers and directors began coming to terms with their Jewishness in the films they made.


  1. A Majority of One (1961) - Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness star in a gentle love story about a Japanese businessman and widower, and a Jewish widow from Brooklyn. But before a happy ending can ensue, they must learn again the lessons of tolerance, kindness and forgiveness.
  2. The Front (1976) - Starring Woody Allen and former blacklisted actors Zero Mostel an Herschel Bernardi. Screenplay by blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein and Directed by the blacklisted Martin Ritt. A comedy about a time when many, many Jewish actors, writers and directors lost their careers due to their leftist politics.
  3. Homicide (1991) - Joe Mantegna stars as Jewish homicide detective Bobby Gold, who while investigating a seemingly minor murder, falls in with a Zionist group as a result. Written and directed by David Mamet.
  4. The Infidel (2010) - Starring Richard Schiff and Omid Djalili, who plays Mahmud Nasir a successful businessman and salt of the earth and salt of the earth East End Muslim who discovers that he's adopted - and Jewish.

About the Instructor

  • Kurt F. Stone, DD, is now in his 23rd year with Lifelong Learning. His passion for film is, he says, "genetic," having been born in Hollywood, CA, and raised both in and around the movie industry. Stone is a multi-disciplinary sort of man, who has also written two well-received books on Congress, published nearly 900 essays, is an ordained rabbi and earns his living as a medical ethicist.

    Recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award

Upcoming programs presented by Kurt F. Stone.

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