Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1975. Midwest Films. Screenplay by Joan Micklin Silver, based on the novel by Abraham Cahan. Cinematography by Kenneth Van Sickle. Produced by Raphael D. Silver. Music by William Bolcom. Production Design by Stuart Wurtzel. Costume Design by Robert Pusilo. Film Editing by Katherine Wenning. Academy Awards 1975.
Filmed in black and white and taking place in turn-of-the-century New York City, this independent charmer stars a wonderful Steven Keats as an immigrant from Russia whose years in New York City have turned him from observant Jew to modern bachelor, once Yankel and now “Jake”. He gets a letter telling him that his wife Gitl (Carol Kane) and child Yossele, whom he left behind in the old world to prepare the way in the new, are on their way over, which means he needs better than a bachelor apartment to set them up in, and he needs to get rid of his dance hall girlfriend. Kane (who is wonderful) arrives still set in her traditional ways, refusing to dress like a New York City woman and objecting to calling her son “Joey”. Keats fights to get his way…but will he be happy with the result? That’s for you to find out when you enjoy this sweet, wryly hilarious tale brimming with irony. Doris Roberts has a terrific supporting role as the nosy landlady whose salty dialogue infuses all her scenes (“With one tachas you don’t dance at two weddings!”)