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Race Relations

Coping with prejudice, intolerance, bias, closed mindedness, unfairness, bigotry and discrimination.



Movie:  Gentleman’s Agreement

(20th Century Fox; 1947) black and white, 118 minutes; non-rated; drama 


Healing Themes:                                                                                                                                                               

  • Racism/Prejudice/Bigotry
  • Social injustice
  • Sexism
  • Stereotypes
  • Morals and values

Director:  Elia Kazan


Screenplay:  Moss Hart and Elia Kazan


Cast:  Gregory Peck (Philip Schuyler Green); Dorothy McGuire (Kathy Lacey); John Garfield (Dave Goldman); Celeste Holm (Anne Dettrey); Anne Revere (Mrs. Green); June Havoc (Elaine Wales); Albert Dekker (John Minify); Jane Wyatt (Jane). 


Synopsis:  Philip Green (Gregory Peck) is a widowed journalist who moved to New York City with his son Tommy (Dean Stockwell) and his mother Mrs. Green (Anne Revere).  Philip meets with magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker) who asks Philip to write an article on anti-Semitism.  Philip changes his name and poses as a Jew to research the article on the widespread distrust and dislike of the Jewish population in New York City.  It was a controversial film at the time, similar to the film Crossfire, which was released the same year.


Philip becomes involved with Kathy Lacey (Dorothy McGuire) when he is introduced to her at a dinner party.  She originally suggested the story idea to her uncle John, the magazine publisher.  Philip’s friend Dave (John Garfield) also moves to New York City, where he experiences several incidents of bigotry.      


Viewing Suggestion:  As you view this film, observe how Philip talks to his son Tommy about anti-female prejudice, and later about anti-Semitism.  Watch how the relationship between Philip and Kathy is strained due to her subtle or indirect compliance with bigotry.  Pay attention to all the times Philip experiences prejudice and intolerance while he is working on this story.   


Exercise:  Identify a situation when you remained silent instead of standing up for someone who was of a different religion or race.  Do you feel your silence might have condoned the prejudice?  Can you identify with either Philip or Dave’s character?  In what way can you identify?      


Availability:  This movie is available for viewing by streaming from your favorite device through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.  You can also buy this movie on sites such as Movies Unlimited.


Trivia:  Gentleman's Agreement was based on Laura Z. Hobson's bestselling novel of the same name.  It was  nominated for eight Oscars and won three: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Celeste Holm), and Best Director for Elia Kazan.


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