Henry Jaglom’s 18th film, “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” is, in Jaglom’s words, “a love song to actors.” It follows the Isaacs, a family of thespians with roots in the Yiddish theater, and the “45 minutes” in the title refers to the time it takes the family to get from midtown Manhattan to their vacation home, where everyone has gathered for a Seder. Commotion ensues.
The film is based on Jaglom’s play of the same name, which had a successful run in Los Angeles. In addition to examining family dynamics, it asks whether we are all actors. Are the emotions we display genuine, or do we react to stimuli the way we’ve been conditioned to by movies and television?
Jaglom’s own family history could be the basis for a different film: His mother is a direct descendent of the German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, and his father, who came from a wealthy Russian banking family, was the minister of finance of the Free City of Danzig (which, formerly part of Germany, is now Gdansk in Poland). When he resigned because of rampant anti-Semitism, the Nazis offered to make him an honorary Aryan.
Jaglom spoke to The Arty Semite about his family, his film and his career.
Curt Schleier: With rare exceptions, you’ve never had Jewish characters before. Does having a Jewish family at a film’s center limit its commercial prospects?