Green Fields (1937)

Genres - Drama, Romance, Theater  |   Release Date - Jan 1, 1937 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bob Mastrangelo

Green Fields is an example of the independent Yiddish-language films that were made in the United States in the 1930s. Based on Peretz Hirschbein's popular play, it tells of Levy-Yitzchok, a yeshiva student who arrives in a Jewish farming village while looking to connect with rural Jews. He is taken in by the family of Duvid-Noiach and, as to be expected, falls in love with Duvid-Noiach's daughter, Tzineh. Simple almost to a fault, with an admitted nostalgia for an old, rural way of life, Green Fields is probably more valuable as a historical record than as a piece of entertainment. Directors Jacob Ben-Ami and Edgar G. Ulmer are not fully successful in removing the story from its theatrical origins, as the presentation is often static, and at times even ponderous. It also does not help matters that the characters lack any real dimension and the story's resolution is completely predictable. Nevertheless, Green Fields remains a mostly enjoyable experience, possessed with a charm that overcomes these weaknesses and helped largely by its sincere performances. Oddly, the least convincing performance comes from Michael Goldstein in the lead, playing a character so taciturn that it is difficult to understand why everyone admires him. But the rest of the cast is uniformly solid, injecting the film with the spark that the story lacks. The relentless battling between the two farming families provides the film with its best moments, and Helen Beverly, as Tzineh, is an appealing leading lady.