Oscars Challenge #65: Gentleman's Agreement (1947) Movie Review
World War II ended on September 1945. Although everyone rejoiced because the fighting was over, other battles occurred immediately. The persecution or execution of the Jewish people might be over, but the hatred and disgust against them didn't end. It seems that everyone is not ready for change and still clings to their idiotic beliefs that we are all equal regardless of race, skin color, religious beliefs, etc.
Gentleman's Agreement showed us what it feels like to be in the middle of a circle of hatred like Antisemitism. What it feels like to be racially discriminated and what are the effects it brings to the ones close to us.
It follows the story of an experienced and determined widow journalist Philip Green who just moved to New York City with his son Tommy and his mother. He talked with the magazine publisher, John Minify, and asked him to write an article about antisemitism Green disagreed with it at first but soon changed his mind.
Green tries to explain the concept to his son but can't correctly elaborate on it. The same reason motivates him to the article he should write. He employs a new secretary, Elaine Wales, who happens to be Jewish but changes her name because of fears that she will not get a job. As he goes deeper into his article, he experiences bigotry, and soon his son also gets to experience discrimination at school.
Gentleman's Agreement features the brilliant acting of Sir Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, and John Garfield. You may have known the leading actor when he played Atticus Finch in another great movie, To Kill A Mockingbird. Elia Kazan is the director of this film. He would be the director of another Best Picture winner, On The Waterfront.
This might have been one of the most conceptually brilliant films out of all the Best Picture winners. Making these kinds of films takes a lot of guts because it tackles some hard-hitting topics like racism and prejudice.
I think Gentleman's Agreement did a decent job sticking to the storyline. It really shows the experience the protagonist and his family had to endure by taking on a very daring task. Some scenes are tough to watch because it didn't make sense in my perspective to hate or discriminate against someone due to their religious beliefs. The actors also did an excellent job portraying their roles; you get to love and hate some.
What disappoints me about the film is the insertion of the love story between the main character, Philip, and the one who suggested the topic, Kathy. It's pretty unnecessary for me. Even if you remove it from the main story, it will not take too much effect. I preferred the story to be straightforward.
You cannot deny that Gentleman's Agreement is a statement film that tries to fight against racial prejudice and discrimination. I don't know if it worked or changed a lot of antisemitism, but I see that it tried its best to do so.
Overall this is a solid film that truly stamps its message. It may not be an easy watch, but it's still reasonable and necessary.
A solid 4 out of 5 stars.