Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Shop On Main St.

Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos, 1965, Czechoslovakia, bw (9.0*)
Best Foreign Film (AA)
A terrific film on a little known subject, the 'Aryanization' of Jewish businesses in Europe, in which the Nazis sent in those of pure, Aryan race to basically take over Jewish businesses when Jews were banned from owning or operating any. This story takes place in occupied Czechoslavakia, when an Aryan male is sent to run a tiny button shop on Main St. in a small Czech village.

Ida Kaminska plays the shopkeeper, in a performance that garnered an Oscar® nomination for lead actress; it's one of the more believable in Oscar® history as she's so wonderfully understated that you never suspect she's acting. Jozef Króner is the man (Tono) sent to take over her shop, and he's in for a real education, as he discovers a huge Jewish support network that actually pays salary to small shopkeepers who would be out of business otherwise.

This is an eye-opening story that looks at anti-Semitism literally at street level, how it affects the daily lives of small villagers. It's an important film in the pantheon of holocaust films, and one of the best films to ever come out of the Czech Republic. The film won four awards for foreign language film, including the Oscar® in 1966.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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