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Dr. Goldman's comments so far...


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I will be interested to see what Goldman's comments are about SWORD IN THE DESERT tonight. The film, made by Universal-International in Hollywood, was very controversial when released. American critics found the subject matter presented in an unbalanced fashion, and the movie was pulled in Britain due to protests and a bomb scare.

 

For more, read the article at the TCM database:

 

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/92168/Sword-in-the-Desert/articles.html

 

I saw SWORD IN THE DESERT on TCM about 15 years ago, and it is a very interesting movie. It is the only one I know of that shows Jewish immigrants and British Soldiers as bitter enemies, and there are some gun battles between them.

 

This was a rare time in Palestine when there were several international humanitarian groups sending European Jews (concentration camp survivors) to Palestine. Shortly after WW II ended, even the US government was helping do this (see the movie THE SEARCH). But just a couple of years later, the British decided to cut off the Jewish immigration. The British had ruled Palestine as a colony for many years, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (see LAWRENCE OF ARABIA). There were the old-time Jewish Palestinians and the Arabic Palestinians who had lived in Palestine for hundreds of years and had gotten along together for generations.

 

Many of the immigrants were European Jews and many didn't want to go back home because the Russians and Communists had taken over their East European countries and also the Jews had a lot of bad feelings for non-Jewish Europeans who had aided the Nazis (in order to survive) during WW II.

 

So it is an exciting movie with a lot of new and interesting stuff in it.

 

Years ago I had a Jewish friend to managed to Escape from Germany with his family, around 1937 or 38, when he was about 12 years old, and they moved to Argentina. They later moved to Shanghai, and then later to Chicago. I knew the guy in San Francisco. He spoke English with a Chinese accent, since he had learned English from a Chinese teacher in Shanghai in the early 1940s.

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I saw SWORD IN THE DESERT on TCM about 15 years ago, and it is a very interesting movie. It is the only one I know of that shows Jewish immigrants and British Soldiers as bitter enemies, and there are some gun battles between them.

 

This was a rare time in Palestine when there were several international humanitarian groups sending European Jews (concentration camp survivors to Palestine). There were the British who had ruled Palestine as a colony for many years. There were the old-time Jewish Palestinians and the Arabic Palestinians who had gotten along together for generations.

 

Many of the immigrants were European Jews and many didn't want to go back home because the Russians and Communists had taken over their countries and they had a lot of bad feelings for non-Jewish Europeans who had aided the Nazis (in order to survive).

 

So it is an exciting movie with a lot of new and interesting stuff in it.

Thanks, Fred. Sounds very interesting. I haven't seen it before...and am eager to watch it later tonight.

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I very much enjoyed last night's presentation of films, including HILL 24 DOESN'T ANSWER; SWORD IN THE DESERT; and EXODUS. 

 

SWORD IN THE DESERT was a real treat-- and it was certainly ironic that although the film was pulled from distribution in Britain, the only copy of the film that Dr. Goldman could locate came from a British source.

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I very much enjoyed last night's presentation of films, including HILL 24 DOESN'T ANSWER; SWORD IN THE DESERT; and EXODUS. 

 

SWORD IN THE DESERT was a real treat-- and it was certainly ironic that although the film was pulled from distribution in Britain, the only copy of the film that Dr. Goldman could locate came from a British source.

 

Actually TB, while perhaps there IS a small amount of irony here due to this film being pulled for a while in the UK, I at least thought the "charge" Dr.Goldman made of SITD being "anti-British was somewhat of an overstatement.

 

I felt this way because while of course the film is presented from an Israeli POV, I thought it also presented all the British characters in a sympathetic matter and in such a way the viewer can also appreciate "the rock and a hard place" position in which the British forces were placed.

 

You see, when I think of an "anti-ANYTHING" movie, my thoughts usually turn to fare in the propaganda genre, such as almost all Hollywood produced WWII films and/or say those Anti-Communist films produced during the Cold War.

 

(...definitely a well-done movie with excellent acting all-around however, and one I'm glad I caught last night...though I DO have to say I thought the very final moments in it were just a tad schmaltzy)

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Yes, Dargo-- I think Goldman overstated the anti-British thing to some degree. But keep in mind that any sympathetic renderings of the British characters probably came about because the British were already objecting to the film when it was in development/production. I am sure there were extensive revisions by Universal's writers, to meet the requirements of the production code and to try and ensure distribution in the UK (which of course did not happen). Also, what seems sympathetic or tame to us today may not have been regarded that way in 1949 or 1950.

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Yes, Dargo-- I think Goldman overstated the anti-British thing to some degree. But keep in mind that any sympathetic renderings of the British characters probably came about because the British were already objecting to the film when it was in development/production. I am sure there were extensive revisions by Universal's writers, to meet the requirements of the production code and to try and ensure distribution in the UK (which of course did not happen). Also, what seems sympathetic or tame to us today may not have been regarded that way in 1949 or 1950.

 

Yep. If the whole "British demanding changes" scenario is correct here TB, then not only did that make for a much better film, due of course to it elevating the final product away from the propagandistic and to a more circumspect story, such a thing would also make Dr.Goldman's definitive or at least implied statement of the film PRESENTLY being viewed as "anti-British" the "overstatement" I previously mentioned and due to the very point mentioned in your final sentence above about the progression of time and its effect upon how certain films are perceived.

 

(...in other words, I think we're in agreement here...ultimately) 

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I'm really liking this series.  I watched "Sword in the Desert" today and liked it (and it had one of my favorite actors, Dana Andrews)...as always I have to learn more about what really happened in history (history of Israel now).

  Last year I read an excellent book by a Holocaust survivor...she was like 14 on the run from the Nazis in Poland (after her entire family was murdered) and then after liberation she was recruited to smuggle Jews from Poland to Palestine/Israel (she was still a very young teen!)...WWII war may have ended but the anti-semitism and killings of Jews was still happening in Europe.

I remember at the end of the book how very surprised I was to read she and the others had to "literally fight the British" to get there...after all the horror they had already been through, no family members alive (or very few), the home & countries they always knew was no longer and they were still unwanted...then the "promised land" that isn't welcoming them with open arms...just incredible... the spirit of the people is amazing.

 

But, back to "Sword"...I thought that was interesting at the end of the movie with Bethlehem in the distance how the Christmas song lyrics became garbled.  And, I noticed the kidnapped British soldier says, "what the hell?"  In 1955 did they even say that word?  I never heard it in any other '50s movies.  :)

 

Another interesting thing was when Dana Andrew's hears about the Judas Tree/Christmas tree and changes his mind about betraying. 

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Another interesting thing was when Dana Andrew's hears about the Judas Tree/Christmas tree and changes his mind about betraying. 

 

I gotta admit I got a good chuckle during the opening scene when after Stephen McNally says to Andrews' hardbitten ship captain character that he doesn't think they're where they need to be(off the coast of Palestine), Andrews replies to him, "I'm sure we are. You want me to swim to shore and bring back a matzo ball to prove it to ya?!" LOL

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