The Internet is filled with oddities and lost gems. We took a dive into YouTube and found that some of the most interesting Jewish films are out there. And you can watch them right now.
1) The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Ted Kotcheff’s 1974 screen adaptation of Mordechai Richler’s classic coming-of-age novel starred a young Richard Dreyfuss as the titular kid on the make in Montreal.
2) Battle of Blood Island
This obscure World War II film about a couple of American G.I.’s in Japan wouldn’t necessarily merit much of a mention but for the fact that it is the first film based on a work by Philip Roth, in this case the short story “Expect the Vandals,” which was originally published in Esquire.
3) The Critic
Mel Brooks won his first Academy Award for this film — a three minute short that lampoons both modern art and art criticism. It premiered in New York in 1963.
4) The Diary of Anne Frank
“The Diary of Anne Frank” has been adapted to film dozens of times, most famously in the 1959 version that George Stevens directed for Hollywood. In 1980, it was made into a TV version starring Melissa Gilbert.
5) The Dybbuk
S. Ansky’s classic, fantastical 1914 play was adapted into its most famous film version by Michał Waszyński.
6) Genghis Cohn
This eerie and unsettling film about a former SS officer haunted by the standup comic he executed is based on Roman Gary’s novel “The Dance of Genghis Cohn.”
7) Hester Street
Joan Micklin Silver’s classic 1975 film about Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side was based on the story “Yekl,” by Forward founder Ab Cahan.
8) Isaac in America: A Journey With Isaac Bashevis Singer
This 1986 PBS documentary about the legendary author and storyteller was originally featured on “American Masters” and was nominated for an Academy Award.
9) The Jazz Singer
This is certainly not the most famous adaptation of Samson Raphaelson’s play (that would be the Al Jolson version) and it’s certainly not the most reviled (that honor goes to the Neil Diamond movie). But this made-for-TV film that starred Jerry Lewis, Anna Maria Alberghetti and Molly Picon may be the oddest “Jazz Singer” we’ve seen.
10) Mikey and Nicky
One of the most overlooked films of the 1970’s, this harrowing story of a childhood friendship gone bad stars Peter Falk and John Cassavetes and was written and directed by Elaine May.
11) The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob
An absolutely insane film that merrily tramples over the borders of political correctness. Louis de Funes stars a bigot who has to save his skin by impersonating a rabbi. It is one of the highest-grossing films in French cinema history. You can watch it here without subtitles.
12) The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Adapted from Giorgio Bassani’s novel, this 1970 Vittorio Di Sica film depicts the fall of an Italian-Jewish family as the horrors of World War II close in on them.