Just as Jews have been drawn disproportionately to progressive political and cultural movements, Jewish American filmmakers have played a seminal role in movies that deal with social issues. Among these directors, none has been more closely aligned than Sidney Lumet with a cinema dominated by “a deep and abiding commitment to social justice.” The Jewish aspect is magnified by Lumet’s unsurpassed number of Jewish-themed films—The Pawnbroker (1965), Bye Bye Braverman (1968), Just Tell Me What You Want (1979), Daniel (1983), Garbo Talks (1984), Running on Empty (1988), and A Stranger Among Us (1992). This essay examines the explicit and implicit Jewishness in Lumet’s political films, drawing a crucial distinction between his socially conscious oeuvre and the more personal, philosophical work of another major Jewish-oriented director, Woody Allen—a distinction that underscores Lumet’s historical position as America’s political Jewish filmmaker par excellence.


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pp. 20-43
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