Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 14 August 2009 00:00
I saw two films in the last week that somehow brought me back to the old, pre-computer, pre-iPod, pre-blogging and much simpler times.
The first film was Yoo Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. The Goldbergs was first a radio show and then a television show that took America into the Bronx with a family called the Goldbergs. The brilliant Gertrude Berg leaned out her Bronx apartment window and solved the nation’s insecurities. Raising her two children Rosalie and Sammy, she influenced women all over America in proper child-rearing. Her easy manner while uttering Jewish malapropisms was laugh-provoking with a definite point to be understood. She also sold Sanka coffee as she did her believable ads while at the window.
As she gossiped with her neighbors at the windowsill she reminded me of the old joke. Mrs. Katz, in a frenzy, yells to her adjoining friend, Mrs. Goldberg, through the alley windows, “Did you hear, Hitler, that louse, invaded Poland!” Calmly, Mrs. Goldberg answers, “I don’t hear nothing, I live in the back.”
The movie takes us back through the McCarthy years and the blacklisting of many actors and writers. Molly and her family are intelligently placed characters that become universal symbols for all the ills and goodness of our country.
An interview with Edward R. Murrow points out that Gertrude Berg, the author and writer of The Goldbergs, is a truly sophisticated woman with no accent and a deep intelligence.
The second movie, Julia and Julie, written and directed by the incomparably astute Nora Ephron, is a double story. First, we have Julia Child, that tall, gawky woman who moves to Paris with her State Department husband. She becomes enamored of French cooking and enters an all-male chef’s class at the Cordon Bleu, the ultra fine and snobby center of French cooking. She writes a book designed to help American housewives understand and become proficient at French gastronomy.
Eventually she becomes an American TV personality with a show that teaches sauces, how to cook and prepare chicken and duck and other secrets of France’s cooking.
In the sparkling and warm interplay between Julia (Meryl Streep who plays and sounds exactly like Julia) and her husband, played magnificently by Stanley Tucci, we get an insight into a beautiful, long-lasting marriage. We even find out that they insinuated both were American spies during World War II.
Julie, the other story, is a young employed housewife who takes Julia’s huge cookbook and does every recipe in her Astoria, Queens apartment.
The counterpoint of Julia and Julie is most satisfying as done by Nora Ephron.