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Who was Max Stamm?


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Max Stamm made a brief appearance in the two-reeler "Red Shadow" (1932) shown on TCM recently. He and an uncredited actress were in one scene, in which they show up at the fort in safari clothing looking for information. Max sees two black sentries and says something like, "We'll ask the shvartzes!" Very politically incorrect today, but offering some insight into how Jewish comedians and African Americans were shown in early sound films.

 

I have been able to find only one other reference to Max Stamm, that he was in a Broadway play in 1946. And that's it. Surely he had a career that left a better paper trail than this. Anyone ever hear of him?

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> Not so. It was meant to be funny because it was indeed pejorative, which is the same point AZHoffman made in his original post on this thread.

 

No, ein schwartzer coinsidered funny because it's flippant and nominally an "in" joke: something that, on its surface, only those conversant in Yiddish should understand. The real joke is, then, that everybody understands it, because the context provides an instant window on its Yiddishness. The subject -- in this case, African-Americans -- is irrelevant.

 

It works exactly the same way when a character in a movie is called a ****: it has nothing to do with the character, and everything to do with immediately and unavoidably understanding what, on its surface, you're not supposed to understand.

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