Adapted by Moss Hart from the novel by Laura Z. Hobson, this film stars Gregory Peck as recently widowed journalist Phil Green. With a growing son (Dean Stockwell) to support, Green is receptive to the invitation of magazine publisher John Minify (Albert Dekker) to write a series of hard-hitting articles on the scourge of anti-Semitism. In order to glean his information first hand, Green decides to pose as a Jew. As the weeks go by, Green experiences all manner of prejudice, the most insidious being the subtle, "gentleman's agreement" form of bigotry wherein anti-Jewish sentiments are merely taken for granted. Green's pose takes a toll on his budding romance with Minify's niece Kathy (Dorothy McGuire), who comes to realize by her own example that even those who insist that they harbor no anti-Semitic feelings are also capable of prejudice. Watching from the sidelines is Green's lifelong Jewish friend Dave (John Garfield, in what may be his best performance), who despite his inherent rage over the iniquities of racism has learned to be philosophical about the failings of his fellow man-but not to the extent that he's willing to give up the fight against blind hatred. Though warned by several Jewish film moguls that to produce the film would merely "make trouble," 20th Century-Fox chieftan Daryl F. Zanuck (who was not himself Jewish) saw the project through to its conclusion. The wisdom of Zanuck's decision was proven when Gentleman's Agreement not only made a fortune for Fox, but also won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Elia Kazan) and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm).
by Hal Erickson synopsis