Live accompaniment by Ukrainian composer Yakov Gubanov, piano; Mimi Rabson, violin. Based on original music by Yakov Gubanov.
Jewish Luck (Yevreiskoye Schastye / Menakhem Mendl)
USSR 1925 100 minutes B&W Silent with English intertitles
(Russian intertitles also available)
Director: Alexander Granovsky
Assistant Director: Grigori Gricher-Cherikover
Based on the Menakhem Mendl stories by Sholem Aleichem
Cinematography: Eduard Tisse, Vasili Khvatov
Original Russian intertitles: Issac Babel
Cast: Solomon Mikhoels, Tamara Edelheim, T. Khazak, M. Goldblat, Y. Shidlo, I. Rogaler, S. Epstein, R. Imenitove
Jewish Luck was among the first Soviet Yiddish films to be released in the US during the 1920s. Based on Sholem Aleichem's series of stories featuring the character Menakhem Mendl, Jewish Luck revolves around the daydreaming entrepreneur Menakhem Mendl who specializes in doomed strike-it-rich schemes. Despite Jewish oppression by Tsarist Russia, Menakhem Mendl continues to pursue his dreams and his continued persistence transforms him from schlemiel to hero as the film uncovers the tragic underpinnings of Sholem Aleichem's comic tales. Notes Village Voice critic Georgia Brown, "The movie's best intertitle, translated from Isaac Babel's Russian: `What can you do when there is nothing to do?'"
A dramatized version of the Menkhem Mendl stories was first staged by the Moscow Yiddish State Theater, under the direction of Alexander Granovsky, who later made this silent film. Jewish Luck features some of the finest artistic talents of Soviet Jewry during this period. It has been speculated that the cinematography done by Eduard Tisse in Jewish Luck inspired the filming of particular scenes in one of his later projects, Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin. The original Russian intertitles were written by Soviet Jewish writer Isaac Babel, who later became a victim of the Stalinist purges in the late 1930s.