Cinema began to cover social issues almost immediately after its invention and few issues were more pressing or controversial than immigration. The Unites States is a nation of immigrants and that reality was reflected in the movers and shakers of the motion picture industry. But how would these realities be portrayed on the screen? This month is all about looking the various ways immigrants were portrayed in silent film.
I will be paying special attention to the Jewish immigration experience and the vibrant world of Yiddish cinema. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, here are some films dealing with the topic that I have already reviewed:
The Tong Man (1919) From China to San Francisco
Little Annie Rooney (1925) From Ireland to New York
Gretchen the Greenhorn (1916) From the Netherlands to New York
The Canadian (1926) From England to Canada
Redskin (1929) Um, people, the Navajo guy is not the foreigner. You are.
Needless to say, this is a historical examination and political comments are not welcome.
Review #1: Fresh off the boat
The Immigrant (1917) – The perils, trials and triumphs of new immigrants are lovingly celebrated and kidded with in this classic Chaplin short.
Review #2: The Next Generation
His People (1925) – The sweet story of a Jewish family with the immigrant parents at odds with their very American sons.
Review #3: Those Terrible Neighbors!
The Shamrock and the Rose (1927) – A Jewish family and their Irish neighbors duke it out when their kids fall in love.
Also check out:
Silent Volume has a few reviews on the subject…