Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema

Poster for Hollywood’s Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema

Editors: Murray Pomerance, Daniel Bernardi, Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

As studio bosses, directors, and actors, Jews have been heavily involved in film history and vitally involved in all aspects of film production. Yet Jewish characters have been represented onscreen in stereotypical and disturbing ways, while Jews have also helped to produce some of the most troubling stereotypes of people of color in Hollywood film history. In Hollywood's Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema, leading scholars consider the complex relationship between Jews and the film industry, as Jews have helped to construct Hollywood's vision of the American dream and American collective identity and have in turn been shaped by those representations.

Editors Daniel Bernardi, Murray Pomerance, and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson introduce the volume with an overview of the history of Jews in American popular culture and the American film industry. Multidisciplinary contributors go on to discuss topics such as early Jewish films and directors, institutionalized anti-Semitism, Jewish identity and gossip culture, and issues of Jewish performance on film. Contributors draw on a diverse sampling of films, from representations of the Holocaust on film to screen comedy; filmmakers and writers, including David Mamet, George Cukor, Sidney Lumet, Edward Sloman, and Steven Spielberg; and stars, like Barbra Streisand, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller.

The Jewish experience in American cinema reveals much about the degree to which Jews have been integrated into and contribute to the making of American popular film culture. Scholars of Jewish studies, film studies, American history, and American culture as well as anyone interested in film history will find this volume fascinating reading.

  • Published: September 17, 2012
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
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