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Director Joan Micklin Silver, 85 ("Hester Street," "Crossing Delancey")
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Lenona
2021-01-02 17:52:54 UTC
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I saw "Hester Street" when I was maybe ten - and I didn't understand the husband's hostile attitude. But, there's no denying the movie has some funny scenes - even to a kid.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/movies/joan-micklin-silver-dead.html

First half:

By Anita Gates
Jan. 1, 2021

Joan Micklin Silver, the filmmaker whose first feature, “Hester Street,” expanded the marketplace for American independent film and broke barriers for women in directing, died on Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 85.

Her daughter Claudia Silver said the cause was vascular dementia.

Ms. Silver wrote and directed “Hester Street” (1975), the story of a young Jewish immigrant couple from Russia on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1890s. It was a personal effort, a low-budget 34-day location shoot, that became a family project.

Studios said the story was too narrowly and historically ethnic. For one thing, much of the film, in black and white, was in Yiddish with English subtitles.

“Nobody wanted to release it,” Ms. Silver recalled in a visual history interview for the Directors Guild of America in 2005. “The only offer was to release it on 16 to the synagogue market,” she added, referring to 16-millimeter film.
Ms. Silver’s husband, Raphael D. Silver, a commercial real estate developer, stepped in to finance, produce and even distribute the film after selling it to some international markets while attending the Cannes Film Festival. “Hester Street” opened at the Plaza Theater in Manhattan in October 1975, then in theaters nationwide, and soon earned $5 million (about $25 million today), almost 14 times its $370,000 budget. (Ms. Silver sometimes cited an even lower budget figure: $320,000.)

Richard Eder of The New York Times praised the film’s “fine balance between realism and fable” and declared it “an unconditionally happy achievement.” Carol Kane, who was 21 during the filming, in 1973, was nominated for the best actress Oscar for her role as Gitl, the newly arrived wife who is, in the opinion of her husband (Steven Keats), humiliatingly slow to assimilate.

“Hester Street” made Ms. Silver’s reputation, but the next time she wanted to depict Jewish characters and culture, the same objections arose.

“Crossing Delancey” (1988) was a romantic comedy about a sophisticated, single New York bookstore employee (Amy Irving) who is constantly looking over her shoulder to be sure that she’s made a clean getaway from her Lower East Side roots.

With the help of her grandmother (played by the Yiddish theater star Reizl Bozyk) and a traditional matchmaker (Sylvia Miles), she meets a neighborhood pickle dealer (Peter Riegert) who has enough great qualities to make up for his being just another nice guy (her tastes ran more in the bad-boy direction).

The studios found this film “too ethnic” too — “a euphemism,” Ms. Silver told The Times, “for Jewish material that Hollywood executives distrust.”

Luckily, Ms. Irving’s husband at the time, the director Steven Spielberg, was fond of Jewish history himself. He suggested that she send the script to a neighbor of his in East Hampton, N.Y. — a top Warner Entertainment executive. The film grossed more than $116 million worldwide (about $255 million today).

It is difficult to say which was Ms. Silver’s most vicious antagonist, anti-Semitism or misogyny.

“I had such blatantly sexist things said to me by studio executives when I started,” she recalled in an American Film Institute interview in 1979. She quoted one man’s memorable comment: “Feature films are very expensive to mount and distribute, and women directors are one more problem we don’t need.”...

(snip)

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/joan-micklin-silver-director-of-hester-street-and-crossing-delancey-dies-at-85

https://www.indiewire.com/2021/01/joan-micklin-silver-filmmaker-obituary-1234607326/

https://variety.com/2021/film/news/joan-micklin-silver-dead-crossing-delancey-1234877650/

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/jan/02/joan-micklin-silver-crossing-delancey-director-dies-aged-85

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Micklin_Silver



Lenona.
Adam H. Kerman
2021-01-02 18:36:29 UTC
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I saw "Hester Street" when I was maybe ten - and I didn't understand the hu=
sband's hostile attitude. But, there's no denying the movie has some funny =
scenes - even to a kid.
Reading about it, I've seen it too. It sounds very familiar. And yeah,
it likely would have been 16 mm projection in a synagogue basement. I
can picture Carol Kane shaving her head (so she would no longer look
appealing to other men after marriage) but then putting on a very
expensive wig. The logic of the traditional practice was entirely absent.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/movies/joan-micklin-silver-dead.html
By Anita Gates
Jan. 1, 2021
Joan Micklin Silver, the filmmaker whose first feature, =E2=80=9CHester Str=
eet,=E2=80=9D expanded the marketplace for American independent film and br=
oke barriers for women in directing, died on Thursday at her home in Manhat=
tan. She was 85.
. . .
It is difficult to say which was Ms. Silver=E2=80=99s most vicious antagoni=
st, anti-Semitism or misogyny.
=E2=80=9CI had such blatantly sexist things said to me by studio executives=
when I started,=E2=80=9D she recalled in an American Film Institute interv=
iew in 1979. She quoted one man=E2=80=99s memorable comment: =E2=80=9CFeatu=
re films are very expensive to mount and distribute, and women directors ar=
e one more problem we don=E2=80=99t need.=E2=80=9D...
Eh

First of all, the studio executives would have been Jewish. I'm sure
they were quite rude to her, but they're studio executives. If she were
a man, they'd have said something else nasty and rude and it's not like
she'd have gotten money to go into production as she was a nobody.

I'm gonna go with "stupid". It's a wonder how any movie gets made.
Crossing Delancey, I was going to guess, had a $35 million budget but
IMDb claims $4 million; I don't see how that's possible. It grossed over
$100 million. It's themes are basic: A romantic movie in which the girl
comes from one world and the boy from another, even though they don't
live all that far apart.

Can Hollywood market such a movie? Of course it can. They've only made
them by the 1000s. There's a built-in audience that eats such movies up,
even though it's "too Jewish", to quote Mel Brooks.

Ironically, whose fault is it that at that time, Hollywood thought the
only business model it had was take a chance on a huge blockbuster movie
that, if it doesn't earn back its costs, would bankrupt the studio?
Hollywood was much better off when it was willing to release a mix of
big budget and small budget movies. If the smaller movies don't make a
splash with the movie-going audience, they aren't going to bankrupt you,
and if they make a big splash, you're a genius for releasing it as
you've gotten an enormous return on investment.
. . .
danny burstein
2021-01-02 19:09:19 UTC
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Permalink
I saw "Hester Street" when I was maybe ten - and I didn't understand the hu=
sband's hostile attitude. But, there's no denying the movie has some funny =
scenes - even to a kid.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/movies/joan-micklin-silver-dead.html
A kind of similar genre movie which seems to have gotten
lost, forgotten, and buried (but which I loved)...

just for the hell of it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Stop%2C_Greenwich_Village
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A Friend
2021-01-02 20:34:00 UTC
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Post by danny burstein
I saw "Hester Street" when I was maybe ten - and I didn't understand the hu=
sband's hostile attitude. But, there's no denying the movie has some funny =
scenes - even to a kid.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/movies/joan-micklin-silver-dead.html
A kind of similar genre movie which seems to have gotten
lost, forgotten, and buried (but which I loved)...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Stop%2C_Greenwich_Village
I loved that one, too. Hell of a cast.

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