The two sons of a poor Russian-Jewish pushcart peddler on New York's Lower East Side are causing their father grief. As Morris and Sammy stray from traditions cherished by their parents, ...
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The two sons of a poor Russian-Jewish pushcart peddler on New York's Lower East Side are causing their father grief. As Morris and Sammy stray from traditions cherished by their parents, each generation learns to accept change to preserve the family as a source of love and respect.Written by
National Center for Jewish Film
A Jewel release. Not owning a theater network, Universal utilized a 3-tiered brand system to sell its product until 1929: Red Feather (low budget programmers), Bluebird (mainstream) and Jewel (big budget prestige releases capable of drawing roadshow ticket prices). See more »
The Lower East Side provided Hollywood with much fodder for its voracious cameras and "His People" is one of the silent eras high spots in this regard. The melting pot here yields a story about an Orthodox Jewish family continually trying to make ends meet in this unforgiving milieu.
Rudolph Schildkraut is Papa, the penniless head of the family consisting of Mama and their two sons. The older one is a scholar and the younger is a street-wise kid who becomes a boxer, or a 'box fighter', as his parents call him. Guess which one is the favored son.
The story is interesting and compelling with excellent performances all around. Schildkraut takes acting honors but I thought the younger son, Sammy, was a story in itself. Sammy is played by George Lewis, one of the most recognizable and enduring faces ever to come out of Hollywood - you have seen this face thousands of times but I'll bet you didn't know his name. He lasted five decades, playing all manner of movie parts and then went into TV. As the IMDb write-up states, his most famous part was probably as Don Diego De La Vega, Zorro's father in the TV series. Also in the cast is Arthur Lubin as the older brother who went on to fame as a Hollywood and TV Director.
The theme of the film has been done many times - the black sheep foots the bill and brings home the bacon and the favored son is an ingrate. It is done especially well here and bolstered immeasurably by the performance of Schildkraut. It is a story both poignant and revelant and depicts the archetypal human condition in any age or circumstance. It is a quintessentially human story.
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