Herman Broder (Ron Silver) is a Holocaust survivor in postwar New York, wed out of gratitude to the peasant woman who hid him from the Nazis. He carries on a mad affair with a concentration camp survivor (Lena Olin), only ... more »to find out that the snappish wife (Anjelica Huston) he thought had died in the war is miraculously alive.« less
Karen Sampson Hudson | Reno, NV United States | 07/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie after reading Steven Pinker's non-fiction book on socio-biology, "The Blank Slate." Pinker recommended this movie based on a tale by Isaac Bashevis Singer, for its study of the human condition, ripe with irony, seasoned with despair, love and forgiveness.
The casting is excellent, and the acting is first-rate from beginning to end. Male viewers will wonder how Herman Broder gets so lucky, having three different but highly appealing women in love with him. Tidily, the three women are from three boroughs of New York City, a typical Singer touch, and the movie includes a scene where Broder stands at the subway entrances deciding which direction to take. Highly recommended."
Great film, awful DVD
Leucippe | new york, ny USA | 11/21/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I concur with other viewers who found the DVD unacceptable in sound quality. Oddly enough, it gets excellent reviews as a DVD transfer. They must have had a different copy. But the film itself remains as fresh and exciting as when it first was issued. Mazursky captures the spirit (if not all the nuances) of I. B. Singer's marvelous novel about Holocaust survivors in New York in the 1950s. None of the reviewers here seem either to have read the book or really understood the point of the film -- Herman Broder, ghost writer, who was hidden during the war by the Polish servant who saved him and marries her (Jadwiga), finds passion with Masha, who survived the camps with her mother (Eros and Thanatos certainly go together here), and discovers his first wife (Tamara), who was shot with her children by the Einsatzgruppen and left for dead, is actually alive. Each represents a different facet of the catastrophe, conveniently divided among the New York boroughs. Anyone, by the way, who has read anything of Singer, including this book, would recognize his very typical take on male sexuality. I would advise viewers to see this film (or see it again) and think more deeply about what's at stake in this ironic tragicomedy than look for mindless and shallow entertainment."
Making the Best of an Awful Situation
David Thomson | Houston, TX USA | 12/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Life is not always fair. One must often play the cards they are dealt. The Nazis severely damaged the stable relationships of many European Jews. Herman Broder (Ron Silver) has emigrated to New York. His wife (Anjelica Huston) is presumed dead and he feels an obligation to serve as a husband to the woman (Margaret Sophie Stein) who previously was the family housekeeper. She is attractive enough and well meaning, but dumber than the proverbial door nail. Herman is also having a passionate affair with a woman who hasn't quite divorced her own husband. Can things get any more complicated? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. It turns out the original wife is still among the living. What can be done? Somebody is obviously going to get hurt. Who will it be? A saintly man would be desperate to find a morally and pragmatic solution---and Herman is not even close to being a saint. Might he wish to get advice from his rabbi (Alan King)? This particular religious leader, sadly, is not exactly a paragon of virtue. He is only a step away from being a total rogue. Alas, Herman inevitably seems doomed to make matters even worse. Isaac Bashevis Singer's story is filled with much humor and pathos. The well known post 9/11 blogger Roger L. Simon wrote the Academy Award nominated screen play. This movie should be on your must see list.
David Thomson Flares into Darkness"
4-Star Film, 2-Star Sound Transfer
ArrivederciBaby | Los Angeles | 09/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As previous reviewers have stated, someone screwed up big-time with the sound mix on this DVD. If you're lucky, you can catch about every third line of dialogue - a real shame in the case of this darkly witty, Oscar-nominated film. Picture quality is absolutely gorgeous, which makes the sound muddle even more frustrating. (Unbelievable that no one involved has demanded a reissue in all the years since this DVD release.) Still, this wonderful film is worth the struggle - even if you have to resort to turning on the subtitles."
Big Love Oy Vey!
R. A Rubin | Eastern, PA United States | 12/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a regular reader of Roger Simon's Blog, a fellow political conservative. He has written fine screenplays and this adaptation was honored by the Academy. As many adaptations of complicated books, and in this case a book by a very complex writer, there's questions after the viewing. A story of Holocaust immigrants, simple enough: this writer-intellectual-Jew-survivor has too many wives. Then it might be a farce of embarrassing discovery and sneaking about. Since the wives and Ron Silver's character have endured unspeakable horror, there's plenty of post-trauma syndrome. The lovers joke about sleeping with death camp guards. There's that understated gallows humor. The women claim to have kept their modesty under the circumstances, but I doubt it. It is difficult to tell if Simon softened the blow. I'll have to read Singer's book to see how he handled it. (They say Singer wrote in Yiddish about a Polish Jewry that no longer existed during his lifetime, a lost world.)
The steamy stuff, most of the bedroom scenes occurs with the attractive, Lena Olin. Huston gets a modest boudoir scene and the peasant Polish wife, Stein has no bedtime at all. Jews doing it. Oy Vey!
Be on the lookout for incredibly good acting among minor characters. Allan King is perfect. "