79. Love At First Bite (1979)
Richard Benjamin’s Dr. Jeffrey Rosenberg (he took the name for “professional reasons”) accidentally pulls out a Star of David instead of a cross to repel Count Dracula (George Hamilton) who has stolen his girlfriend Cindy (Jill St. John) and exclaims, “Well, Count, what do you say to that?” Dracula replies, “I would say, leave Cindy alone and find yourself a nice Jewish girl, Doctor!” Forget Goodbye, Columbus. Thirty years later it couldn’t be clearer that this is Benjamin’s best Jewish film.
78. Trembling Before G-d (2001)
We know we’re supposed to be moved by the personal stories of gay orthodox Jews struggling with belief and identity, but the Hasid who wanders into the shoot and starts imitating Al Pacino totally steals the show.
77. Marci X (2003)
Lisa Kudrow re-invents the JAP in this underrated comedy directed by Richard Benjamin. Her Marci Feld TK. When she looks at TK (Daymon Wayans) in his jewelry and mink coat with his hair done up she tells him that he reminds her of someone. “Tupac, DMX…?,” he asks. “My Aunt Esther,” corrects Marci.
76. The Plot Against Harry (1969)
This early indie movie was lost for two decades, but after its reappearance in 1989, it proved itself a classic of Jewish film. Centered on a mid-level Jewish gangster trying to figure out his life after getting out of prison, it does everything we ever wanted in a Jewish drama—make a character’s Jewishness an essential part of who he is, without it being a source of pathos. Harry is Jewish like Vito Corleone is Italian—it’s what he is, without being who he is. And when the Jewish elevator operator in his building asks if he’s Jewish, and, upon Harry’s affirmative, lets him know the feds are bugging his room, we admit it, we kvell.
75. Going Overboard (1989)
Shecky Moskowitz accuses Neptune of anti-Semitism after the God of the Sea makes fun of Shecky’s nose. Then Milton Berle teaches him the power of laughter in the way Sandler does to Seth Rogan in Funny People.
74. The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
Final scene of the film in which a hasidic man reaches climax with high-priced call girl TK played by Sascha Grey just simply from holding her. Not a word needs to be uttered. Stephen Soderburgh seems to be telling us this is as low as it gets.
73. Munich (2005)
Avner (Eric Bana) has sex with his wife Daphna (Ayelet Zurer), who’s eight months pregnant in yet another Jewish nude scene from Stephen Spielberg that prefigures violent deaths. Unlike its predecessor, this one is kind of hot.
72. The Way We Were (1973)
After attending a Marx Brothers-themed Hollywood party, Barbra seems to have Jewish on her mind. She tells Redford about a book synopsis she’s writing called “Shavuous!”, which takes place on a rice paddy on a Chinese kibbutz. She then tells him another one about a loud mouthed Jewish girl from New York City who comes to Malibu, California and tells her gorgeous goyshe guy that she’s pregnant.
71. Pi (1998)
Great movie, and it helped catapult the career of Weisonofsky, but the telling moment for us was when Max met the Chasid for the first time. Finally, a Chasid who speaks like he learned English in a crappy Brooklyn yeshiva, not like he’s a reject from the casting call of Witness.
70. Oliver Twist (2005)
Ben Kingsley plays Fagin as Polanski brings back the anti-Semitic stereotypes that other recent versions had avoided. Fagin paces up and down his lodging when he finds out that Nancy has been killed muttering, “Oy, oy oy.”
69. The Front (1976)
We’re always annoyed when Jewish characters who speak Hebrew like they’re taking a Reform bar mitzvah correspondence course, so we’ve gotta love the scene in which Hecky Brown (Zero Mostel) emulates his father’s muttering of a quick blessing before a shot to demonstrate how he learned to always drink quickly.
68. Stalag 17 (1953)
Harvey Lembeck’s Harry Shapiro is dancing with a delusional “Animal,” who imagines the former as Bette Grable with her “cute little button nose.” Closeup on Lembeck’s beak as he pleas: “Animal, it’s me! Harry Shapiro from the Bronx!”
67. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)
Another fine adaptation of a significant novel, by Mordecai Richler, with a great performance by Richard Dreyfuss as a young man determined to succeed. Highlight: a bar mitzvah filmed by an artsy movie director.
66. The Pianist (2002)
<object width="320" height="265"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/H-x7ORzd_XQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/H-x7ORzd_XQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="320" height="265"></embed></object>
Polanski does nightmare better than any other director alive. It sort of takes someone who’s faced the abyss themselves to have the courage to represent something as chilling as the Jewish man in the wheelchair getting tossed out a window by the SS. The scene is a dark and twisted kind of vaudeville that simultaneously calls to mind Leon Klinghoffer being tossed overboard the Achile Lauro in 1985. This movie made Schindler’s List seem like a made for television movie.
65. Sallah Shabati (1964)
The scene in which Sallah (TK) is planting trees for the JNF and mistakenly lets the rich Americans know that they same tree is being planted and replanted for all the rich American donors is a moment that transcends the gap between Israel and Diaspora like no other.
64. Meet the Fockers (2004)
Though Stiller’s performance invoked the ire of David Denby and the most scathing critique of his “urban Jewish male on the make,” there’s something entertaining about the perpetual heavyweight battle between his Greg Focker’s id and superego. When Focker’s circumcision ends up in the soup of this sequel to Meet the Parents, TK.
63. The Young Lions (1958)
Not a great war movie, but an interesting and audacious one, which tries to span both the German and American sides of the war from the perspectives of a few soldiers, including a New York Jew played by Montgomery Clift. When robbed by antisemitic fellow recruits in boot camp, Clift’s Noah Ackerman challenges them one by one to a fight. No spoilers, but no self-respecting reader of Heeb can’t feel a little twinge of pride at the end of the last fight. He’s so baddass The Clash wrote a song about him.
62. Rachel Getting Married (2008)
A “L’Chaim” is never just a “L’Chaim.” A generation ago, if she wasn’t religious, a Jewish woman portrayed on the silver screen was whiny, JAPPY and materialistic. Kym (Anne Hathaway) is dark at End of Rachel’s Speech
61. Q&A (1990)
Five magic words: Identical twin, Sephardi, Cuban bodyguards.
60. The Believer (2001)
Danny (Ryan Gosling) sets a bomb to explode in the synagogue at 730. THe next day he goes and finds his girlfriend at the synagogue along with the Jewish poeple he insulted with his anti semetic remarks. At 720 he approaches the torrah and reads aloud as the Jewish people repeat after him. At 727 he tells the Jewish poeple they need to leave NOW!! THere was a bomb he set last night, and they all escape. Danny feeling ashamed of himself stays behind inside the synagogue as it blows up. Movie ends with danny walking up the same flight of stairs he walked down when he left hewbrew school many many years ago. However, this time he will walk up these stairs forever because no matter how many flights he goes up he is still in the same place.