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Top 50 Greatest Jewish Movies

Related Pages:
- Films Suggested by Jewish Rabbis and Representatives
- Top 50 Greatest Catholic Movies
Source: Kathryn Bernheimer. The 50 Greatest Jewish Movies: A Critic's Ranking of the Very Best. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing (1998)

This is an excellent book, and anybody interested in film, religion, ethnicity, minority identity, art, Judaism, or history will thoroughly enjoy it. For each film there is an insightful essay three to five pages in length.

From the introduction:

What is a Jewish movie? For the purposes of this book, I define it as a film that examines an aspect of the Jewish experience and features at least one clearly defined Jewish central character.
As Bernheimer points out (pg. 68), the "Hollywood studioes [were] owned and opeated almost exclusively by Jews... during the 1930s." Most, but not all, of these films were made primarily by Jewish filmmakers. (Charlie Chaplin's courageous anti-Hitler film The Great Dictator is the most notable exception).

Rank Movie Title (Year) Director Rating Religious Affiliation
of Director
1 The Chosen (1981) Jeremy Paul Kagan PG Jewish
2 Fiddler on the Roof (1971) Norman Jewison G  
3 Schindler's List (1993) Steven Spielberg R Judaism
4 Shoah (1985) Claude Lanzmann NR  
5 The Jazz Singer (1927) Alan Crosland NR  
6 Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen PG Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
7 Funny Girl (1968) William Wyler G Jewish
8 Gentleman's Agreement (1947) Elia Kazan NR Greek Orthodox (lapsed);
9 Exodus (1960) Otto Preminger NR Jewish
10 Ben-Hur (1959) William Wyler NR Jewish
10 The Ten Commandments (1956) Cecil B. DeMille G Episcopalian
11 Crossing Delancey (1988) Joan Micklin Silver PG  
12 The Golem (1920) Paul Wegener; Carl Boese NR  
13 Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987) Louis Malle PG Catholic (lapsed)
14 Almonds and Raisins:
A History of the Yiddish Cinema (1988)
Russ Karel NR  
15 Enemies, a Love Story (1989) Paul Mazursky R Jewish
16 The Great Dictator (1940) Charlie Chaplin NR Anglican; agnostic
17 The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) Ted Kotcheff PG Jewish (?)
18 Blazing Saddles (1974) Mel Brooks R Jewish
19 Chariots of Fire (1981) Hugh Hudson PG  
20 Body and Soul (1947) Robert Rossen NR Jewish
21 The Pawnbroker (1965) Sidney Lumet NR Jewish
22 Goodbye Columbus (1969) Larry Peerce PG Jewish
23 Bugsy (1991) Barry Levinson R Jewish
24 Cabaret (1972) Bob Fosse PG  
25 Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) Woody Allen PG-13 Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
26 The Last Angry Man (1959) Daniel Mann NR  
27 The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick (1988) Allan Goldstein G  
28 The Revolt of Job (1983) Imre Gyongyossy; Barna Kabay NR  
29 Homicide (1991) David Mamet R Jewish
30 Madame Rosa (1977) Moshe Mizrahi PG  
31 Driving Miss Daisy (1989) Bruce Beresford PG  
32 Reversal of Fortune (1990) Barbet Schroeder R  
33 Europa Europa (1991) Agnieszka Holland R practicing Catholic
34 The Big Fix (1978) Jeremy Paul Kagan PG Jewish
35 Broadway Danny Rose (1984) Woody Allen PG Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
36 Julia (1977) Fred Zinnemann PG Jewish
37 Marathon Man (1976) John Schlesinger R Jewish
38 A Majority of One (1962) Mervyn LeRoy NR Jewish
39 Oliver! (1968) Carol Reed G  
40 Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) Paul Mazursky R Jewish
41 Holocaust (1978) Marvin Chomsky NR  
42 Dirty Dancing (1987) Emile Ardolino PG-13  
43 The Front (1976) Martin Ritt PG Jewish
44 Biloxi Blues (1988) Mike Nichols PG-13 Jewish
45 The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) George Stevens NR  
46 Shine (1996) Scott Hicks PG-13  
47 Daniel (1983) Sidney Lumet R Jewish
48 Yentl (1983) Barbra Streisand PG Jewish
49 The Young Lions (1958) Edward Dmytryk NR  
50 Marjorie Morningstar (1958) Irving Rapper NR  

NOTE: The author ranked Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments as a tie.


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Webpage created circa June 2001. Last modified 23 December 2005.