Classic Movie Reviews

Fiddler on the Roof


Most historians designate the 1821 Odessa (in what is now Ukraine) pogrom as the first of what became a series of violent and bloody actions taken against Jews in the Russian Empire. An estimated 14 Jews were killed by rioters after the death of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Gregory V in Constantinople. The term pogrom became common usage in English after a wave of more than 200 anti-Jewish riots swept the Southwestern Russian Empire from 1881 to 1884, especially in Kiev, Odessa and Warsaw. These pogroms were triggered by the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, which some blamed on the Jews. Historical research has shown that the cause of the campaign against the Jews had several contributing factors, including a desire to escape repayment of debts and the opportunity for rape, pillage and wanton killings. Thousands of Jewish homes were destroyed in 166 towns, leaving an unknown number of dead and injured and an even larger number reduced to poverty. In another wave of pogroms from 1903 to 1906, more than 2,000 Jews were killed and many more were injured and/or financially ruined. In the wake of these pogroms, more than two million Russian Jews emigrated, many to the United States and United Kingdom. This period gave great impetus to the rise of Zionism, the determination to establish a permanent Jewish homeland.

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"God, who made the lion and the lamb, You decreed I should be what I am. Would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?"

A story about the Russian Jews in the 19th Century. Israeli actor (Chaim) Topol is superb as Tevya, the Jewish village milkman, whom God has seen fit to bless with five children, all daughters. Michael Glaser and Norma Crane head up an excellent supporting cast. It's a musical comedy but with the sobering reality of the Russian pogroms that drove most of the Jews out of Russia, with their culture intact, launching migrations to "New York, America" and "Chicago, America" -- "We'll be neighbors!" The musical score includes the hauntingly beautiful "Sunrise, Sunset."

1971, Directed by Norman Jewison

Watch a Short Clip from Fiddler on the Roof

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A Face in the Crowd     
The African Queen       All Quiet on the Western Front    The Apartment    Bambi    Ben Hur    
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Double Indemnity
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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

From Here To Eternity
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