The Cohens and Kellys (1926)

  |  Comedy


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21 April 2016 | plushing-417-732925
| Especially for those interested in Yiddish theater
I caught a screening of a good print on April 20, 2016, at Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. Intertitles for this print originally were in French and Dutch (!) and somewhere along the line English was added at the bottom, although much of the dialogue was unnecessary in this world champion film of acting through mugging. On the stage, not blocking the screen, were about six excellent musicians who must have rehearsed mightily, flavoring their accompaniment when appropriate with Klezmer, and timing sound effects to perfection. A big part of the audience's enjoyment.

Mostly humorous,could have been cut here and there. One of the best business sight gags ever. Too repetitive in spots, but the old Yiddish Theatre of early 20th century New York was well-represented in heaping doses of schmaltz. The lead actors were terrific, but also delicious were two sets of minor players: the two family dogs and the two young sons, on the cusp of what was promising to be horrendous puberty. Cohen's rascal is particularly good, the best representative of a "bad boy" I've seen. Deliciously, both boys delight in mocking their own fathers' misfortune -- don't recall having seen that in any other movie. The Cohen boy, Robert Gordon, had a fulsome career as actor and director.

I know I enjoyed a film when it's the first thought in my head upon awakening the next morning. The Cohens and Kellys are firmly lodged in my melon. Brief bonus: a shot of a train running down the old Second Avenue El, torn down in the early 1940s. There were good reasons for tearing down the New York City Els but nostalgia buffs miss them.

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