Today, it looks like a heart on a sleeve, but GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT is a landmark film--Hollywood's first major attack on anti-Semitism.
Peck, in a convincing portrayal, is a magazine writer who decides to write a series of exposes on anti-Semitism. After failing to achieve an in-depth grasp of the problem, he pretends to be Jewish in order to experience the hostility of bigots first-hand. AGREEMENT surprised audiences of 1947, and
it was a heroic endeavor personally sponsored by producer Zanuck (who, ironically, was one of the few Hollywood moguls who was not Jewish; in fact his 20th Century-Fox was known, in filmdom's argot, as "the goyim studio").
Garfield initially debated accepting such a small part, but on David Niven's advice, he took the role; his powerful performance shows the commitment he obviously developed during production. Despite the excellence of Peck and Garfield, though, today the finest work seems that of Holm and, in
perhaps the film's most difficult part, McGuire. Shot mostly on location in New York, GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT remains a classic crusading film. leave a comment