This lively musical comedy was a big hit in its day. It stars the vaudevillian Picon, an infectious mugger of strange bird-like mien who was then probably the biggest stage and film star in the Yiddish firmament. The tale - the prototype for Streisand's Yentl - has Picon as the optimistic street violinist who, disguised as a boy, leaves her shtetl with her bassist father in search of fame and fortune. It turns into an entertaining, if cheaper, version of a Hollywood staple, but especially in the early rural scenes, before the big-city success and the ocean-liner trip to America, Green injects a deeply lyrical atmosphere, with dream interludes and rhapsodic Renoir-esque shots of swaying trees and the countryside. Even more poignant, given how close this was to the coming Holocaust, is the incorporation of location work and the use of non-professionals: the shots of the old Polish shtetl courtyards and the villagers' faces which were shortly to vanish forever.
Joseph Green, Jan Nowina Przybylski
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