Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


‘Pelham,’ de-Jewified

So long, Mr. Matthau

Print Email

The remake of seminal ’70s subway-heist film The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 opens on Friday, and New York magazine film critic David Edelstein reviews it in yesterday’s issue. His interesting argument: It’s not just a bad movie, but, this time around, and unlike the original, it’s nearly Judenrein. “Starring the jaded, shambling Walter Matthau and scripted by Peter Stone, Pelham was a New York Jewish comedy writer’s take on the modern metropolis going meshuggener,” Edelstein writes. The remake, meanwhile, has lost its New York-Jewish particularism, he says. It “might as well have been set in Toronto.” For Edelstein, this is no tragedy. He calls the original a “broad, artless, pushy film.” You have to wonder, though, if it would even be possible to make a film today that’s true to the blue-collar Jewishness of the original. Never mind that Jerry Stiller’s character was named Rico Patrone. In the 70s, Jews could still play white ethnics, and working-class characters could be Jews. Maybe it’s because of New York’s changing demographics, maybe it’s because of a shift in what we regard as Jewish characters and Jewish roles, but nowadays, we wouldn’t really find a Jewish cop credible. Think of Stiller’s son, Ben. The only cop he’s ever played was David Starsky.

Stalled Trains [New York]

Print Email

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

‘Pelham,’ de-Jewified

So long, Mr. Matthau

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.