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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).

RankMovie Title (Year)DirectorRatingReligious Affiliation
of Director
1The Chosen (1981)Jeremy Paul KaganPGJewish
2Fiddler on the Roof (1971)Norman JewisonG 
3Schindler's List (1993)Steven SpielbergRJudaism
4Shoah (1985)Claude LanzmannNR 
5The Jazz Singer (1927)Alan CroslandNR 
6Annie Hall (1977)Woody AllenPGJewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
7Funny Girl (1968)William WylerGJewish
8Gentleman's Agreement (1947)Elia KazanNRGreek Orthodox (lapsed);
9Exodus (1960)Otto PremingerNRJewish
10Ben-Hur (1959)William WylerNRJewish
10The Ten Commandments (1956)Cecil B. DeMilleGEpiscopalian
11Crossing Delancey (1988)Joan Micklin SilverPG 
12The Golem (1920)Paul Wegener; Carl BoeseNR 
13Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987)Louis MallePGCatholic (lapsed)
14Almonds and Raisins:
A History of the Yiddish Cinema (1988)
Russ KarelNR 
15Enemies, a Love Story (1989)Paul MazurskyRJewish
16The Great Dictator (1940)Charlie ChaplinNRAnglican; agnostic
17The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)Ted KotcheffPGJewish (?)
18Blazing Saddles (1974)Mel BrooksRJewish
19Chariots of Fire (1981)Hugh HudsonPG 
20Body and Soul (1947)Robert RossenNRJewish
21The Pawnbroker (1965)Sidney LumetNRJewish
22Goodbye Columbus (1969)Larry PeercePGJewish
23Bugsy (1991)Barry LevinsonRJewish
24Cabaret (1972)Bob FossePG 
25Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)Woody AllenPG-13Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
26The Last Angry Man (1959)Daniel MannNR 
27The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick (1988)Allan GoldsteinG 
28The Revolt of Job (1983)Imre Gyongyossy; Barna KabayNR 
29Homicide (1991)David MametRJewish
30Madame Rosa (1977)Moshe MizrahiPG 
31Driving Miss Daisy (1989)Bruce BeresfordPG 
32Reversal of Fortune (1990)Barbet SchroederR 
33Europa Europa (1991)Agnieszka HollandRpracticing Catholic
34The Big Fix (1978)Jeremy Paul KaganPGJewish
35Broadway Danny Rose (1984)Woody AllenPGJewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic
36Julia (1977)Fred ZinnemannPGJewish
37Marathon Man (1976)John SchlesingerRJewish
38A Majority of One (1962)Mervyn LeRoyNRJewish
39Oliver! (1968)Carol ReedG 
40Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)Paul MazurskyRJewish
41Holocaust (1978)Marvin ChomskyNR 
42Dirty Dancing (1987)Emile ArdolinoPG-13 
43The Front (1976)Martin RittPGJewish
44Biloxi Blues (1988)Mike NicholsPG-13Jewish
45The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)George StevensNR 
46Shine (1996)Scott HicksPG-13 
47Daniel (1983)Sidney LumetRJewish
48Yentl (1983)Barbra StreisandPGJewish
49The Young Lions (1958)Edward DmytrykNR 
50Marjorie Morningstar (1958)Irving RapperNR 

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.