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A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred.
Anne Dettrey: I know dear, and some of your other best friends are Methodist, but you never bother to say it.
Tommy Green: They were playing hop, and I asked if I could play too, and the one from school said no dirty little Jew could play with them. And they all yelled those other things. I started to speak, and they all yelled that my father has a long curly beard, and they turned and ran. Why did they, Pop? Why? Phil Green: Come on , drink some of this. [offering a glass of water] Phil Green: Did you want to tell them that you weren't really Jewish? Tommy Green: No. Phil Green: That's good. See, there's are a lot of kids just like you Tommy, who are Jewish, and if you said it, it would sort of be admitting there was something bad in being Jewish; and something swell in not. Tommy Green: They wouldn't fight. They just ran. Phil Green: Yeah, I know. There's a lot of grown-ups just like that too, Tom, only they do it with wisecracks instead of with yelling.
Kathy Lacey: You think I'm an anti-Semite. Phil Green: No, I don't. But I've come to see lots of nice people who hate it and deplore it and protest their own innocence, then help it along and wonder why it grows. People who would never beat up a Jew. People who think anti-Semitism is far away in some dark place with low-class morons. That's the biggest discovery I've made. The good people. The nice people.
Tommy Green: What's anti-Semitism? Phil Green: Well, uh, that's when some people don't like other people just because they're Jews. Tommy Green: Why not? Are Jews bad? Phil Green: Well, some are and some aren't, just like with everyone else. Tommy Green: What are Jews, anyway? Phil Green: Well, uh, it's like this. Remember last week when you asked me about that big church, and I told you there are all different kinds of churches? Well, the people who go to that particular church are called Catholics, and there are people who go to different churches and they're called Protestants, and there are people who go to different churches and they're called Jews, only they call their churches temples or synagogues. Tommy Green: Why don't some people like them? Phil Green: Well, I can't really explain it, Tommy.
Elaine Wales: I changed my name. Did you? Phil Green: Green has always been my name. What's yours? Elaine Wales: Estelle Walovsky. I couldn't take it. The applications, I mean. So one day I wrote the same firm two letters, same as you're doing now. I sent the Elaine Wales one, and I sent it after they said there were no openings. Well, I got the job, all right. Do you know what firm that was? "Smith's Weekly." Phil Green: No. Elaine Wales: Yes, Mr. Green. The great liberal magazine that fights injustice on all sides.
Mrs. Green: Are you very disappointed, Phil? Phil Green: Yes, I am. I was almost sure he'd hand me the Stassen story or Washington. Oh, I wasn't looking for an easy one, Ma, but I did want something I could make good on. I'd so like the first one here to be a natural. Something I know they would read. Mrs. Green: Oh, you mean, there's enough anti-Semitism in real life without people reading about it? Phil Green: No, but this one's doomed before I start. What can I say that hasn't been said before? Mrs. Green: I don't know. Maybe it hasn't been said well enough. If it had, you wouldn't have had to explain it to Tommy just now, or you father and I to you. It would be nice sometime, not to have to explain it to someone like Tommy. Kids are so decent to start with.
Phil Green: I'm going up to Flume Inn. I'm gonna use those plane tickets we had for this afternoon. I'll be back later. Kathy Lacey: Phil, what for? Dave Goldman: You're wasting your time. Phil Green: Sure, but there must be a time once when you fight back, Dave. I want to make them look me in the eye and do it. I-I want the satisfaction. I can't explain it, but I want to do it for myself. Kathy Lacey: Phil, they're nothing more than... Dave Goldman: Let him do it, Kathy. You have to face them once. I did it once at Monterey. Phil Green: They are more than nasty little snobs, Kathy. You call them that, and you can dismiss them; it's too easy. They're persistent little traitors to everything that this country stands for, and stands on and you have to fight 'em! Not just for the 'poor, poor Jews,' as Dave says, but for everything this country stands for.
Elaine Wales: You just let them get one wrong Jew in here, and it'll come out of us. It's no fun being the fall guy for the kikey ones. Phil Green: Miss Wales, I'm going to be frank with you. I want you to know that words like yid and kike and kikey and coon and nigger make me sick no matter who says them. Elaine Wales: Oh, but I only said it for a type. Phil Green: Yeah, but we're talking about a the word first. Elaine Wales: Why, sometimes I even say it to myself, about me, I mean. Like, if I'm about to do something I know I shouldn't, I'll say, "Don't be such a little kike." That's all.
Dave Goldman: There was a boy in our outfit... Abe Schlussman. Good soldier. Good engineer. One night, we got bombed, and he caught it. I was ten yards off. Somebody said... ''Give me a hand with this sheeny.'' Those were the last words he ever heard.
Kathy Lacey: Oh, Dave, we couldn't get married without you. What happened? Dave Goldman: Nothing. That's just it. I can't abandon my family forever, and I can't find a house or an apartment. If it was just me, I'd sleep on the subway, but I've got Carol and the kids. I've got to go back. I'm licked. Phil Green: But that means your job, your whole future. Dave Goldman: I'll live. I've done it before. Kathy Lacey: But, Dave, that's terrible.
Tommy Green: Pop, what's that? Phil Green: That's a statue of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. Tommy Green: No kidding? That's what Grandma says you're doing. She says she wishes you'd leave the world alone once in a while.
Mrs. Green: I never realized pain could be so... sharp.
Phil Green: What makes you say that? Bert McAnny: Oh, I don't know. You just seem like... a clever sort of guy. Phil Green: What makes you think I wasn't a G.I.? Bert McAnny: What? Now, Green, don't get me wrong. Why, some of my best friends are Jews. Anne Dettrey: And some of your other best friends are Methodists, but you never bother to say that.
Phil Green: You aren't going to fit it at all, Kathy! You're just going to give in and let their idiotic rules stand! Kathy Lacey: What can one person do? Phil Green: What can they do? Kathy Lacey: Plenty! Ostracize him! Phil Green: And you expect me to live there now that I know all this? Kathy Lacey: Oh, you can't change the whole world!
Mrs. Green: You know something, Phil? I suddenly want to live to be very old. Very. I want to be around to see what happens. The world is stirring in very strange ways. Maybe this is the century for it. Maybe that's why it's so troubled. Other centuries had their driving forces. What will ours have been when men look back? Maybe it won't be the American century after all... or the Russian century or the atomic century. Wouldn't it be wonderful... if it turned out to be everybody's century... when people all over the world - free people - found a way to live together? I'd like to be around to see some of that... even the beginning. I may stick around for quite a while.
Professor Fred Lieberman: Millions of people nowadays are religious only in the vaguest sense. I've often wondered why the Jews among them still go on calling themselves Jews. Do you know, Mr. Green? Phil Green: No, but I'd like to. Professor Fred Lieberman: Because the world still makes it an advantage not to be one. Thus it becomes a matter of pride to go on calling ourselves Jews.
Phil Green: I've been saying I'm Jewish, and it works. Dave Goldman: Why, you crazy fool! It's working? Phil Green: It works too well. I've been having my nose rubbed in it, and I don't like the smell. Dave Goldman: You're not insulated yet, Phil. The impact must be quite a business on you. Phil Green: You mean you get indifferent to it in time? Dave Goldman: No, but you're concentrating a lifetime into a few weeks. You're not changing the facts, you're just making them hurt more.
John Minify: I've asked Phil to do a piece on anti-Semitism. Kathy Lacey: Am I going to get a credit line? John Minify: You? Why? Kathy Lacey: Well, don't you remember last winter when that Jewish schoolteacher resigned, and I... John Minify: Oh, yes. Well, I knew somebody would be asking me for a credit line. I'm always stealing ideas without realizing it. Kathy Lacey: That's what makes your magazine so original.
Phil Green: So far I've been digging in facts and data-I've sort of been ignoring feelings.
Phil Green: No, no, I'm fine. I just wish I was dead is all.
Tommy Green: Pop, are we Jewish? Jimmy Kelley said we were. Our janitor told his janitor. Phil Green: Well, what did you tell Jimmy Kelley? Tommy Green: I said I'd ask you. Phil Green: Well, it's like this. Remember that movie Kathy and I took you to, and you asked if things like that really happened? Tommy Green: Kathy said they were pretending. Phil Green: Well, I'm pretending I'm Jewish for something I'm writing. Tommy Green: You mean like a game? Phil Green: Yes, but I'd appreciate it if you promised not to tell anybody it's a game. Tommy Green: Okay, Pop, sure.
Phil Green: I don't have to kiss you in public, I have a nice, dark taxi outside [to Kathy] Phil Green: .
Tommy Green: Don't you ever think of what to write yourself?
Phil Green: Funny thing, that girl, Mr. Minify's niece suggested the series on antisemitism. Funny. Mrs. Green: You don't say? Why, women will be thinking next, Phil.
Kathy Lacey: You can't help that you were born Christian instead of Jewish. It doesn't mean you're glad you were. But I am glad. There, I said it.
Kathy Lacey: I love this house, deeply... and I started to build it when things first began to go wrong between Bill and me. And somehow it became a symbol to me of many things. Sometimes, when you're troubled and hurt, you pour yourself into things that can't hurt back.
Phil Green: I'm going to let everybody know I'm Jewish. Kathy Lacey: Jewish? But you're not! Are you? Not that it would make any difference to me. But you said, "Let everybody know," as if you hadn't before and would now. So I just wondered. Not that it would make any difference to me. Phil, you're annoyed. Phil Green: No, I'm just thinking. Kathy Lacey: Well, don't look serious about it. Surely you must know where I stand. Phil Green: Oh, I do. Kathy Lacey: You just caught me off-guard.
Tommy Green: Grandma said to wake you. Phil Green: It's late, isn't it? Tommy Green: Yeah. Here's your bathrobe. Phil Green: I don't want it. Tommy Green: Put it on, I said!
Tommy Green: They called me a dirty Jew and a stinking kike, and they all ran away. Kathy Lacey: Oh, darling, it's not true. You're no more Jewish than I am. It's just some horrible mistake. Phil Green: Kathy!
Resort Clerk: In answer to your question, do you follow the Hebrew religion yourself, or do you just want to make sure? Phil Green: I've asked a simple question, and I'd like a simple answer. Resort Clerk: Well, we have a very high-class clientele, and, well... Phil Green: Then you do restrict your guests to Gentiles? Resort Clerk: Well, I would hardly say that, and in any event, there seems to have been some mistake because we don't have a single free room in the entire hotel.
John Minify: I wouldn't call a dog Schuyler.
Phil Green: You still think of your mom, Tommy? Tommy Green: Sometimes. Not all the time. Just sometimes. How old was I when she died, Pop? Phil Green: You were four years old. It's been a long time. Tommy Green: You ever gonna get married again? Phil Green: Maybe. You want me to? Tommy Green: I don't care. I like it fine this way.
Phil Green: Some people hate Catholics, some people hate Jews. Tommy Green: And no one hates us because we're Americans.
Anne Dettrey: Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the most brilliant of them all? Phil Green: And what does the mirror say? Anne Dettrey: Well, that mirror ain't no gentleman.
Phil Green: You want the moon! John Minify: yeah!... with parsley.
Kathy Lacey: I was right not to settle. I was right to keep dreaming, because it's all come true. Darling, we're going to be so happy here. This house and I were waiting for you. I was always waiting for you, I think.
Phil Green: Ma, I've got it! I've got the idea, the angle, the lead. I'll be Jewish! Why, all I've got to do is just say it! No one around here knows me. I can live with myself for six weeks, eight weeks, nine months. Ma, this is it! Mrs. Green: It must be. It always is when you're this sure. Phil Green: Ma, listen, I've even got the title. "I Was Jewish for Six Months." Mrs. Green: It's right, Phil. Phil Green: Ma, it's like this click just happened inside me. It won't be the same, sure, but it'll be close. I can just tell them I'm Jewish and see what happens. Mrs. Green: It'll work fine, Phil. Phil Green: Dark hair, dark eyes. Just like Dave. Just like a lot of guys who aren't Jewish. No accent, no mannerisms. Neither has Dave.
Kathy Lacey: You can't make over the whole world. You know I'm on Dave's side. Phil Green: Well, I'm not on Dave's side or any side, except against their side.
Kathy Lacey: I called up my sister Jane and blurted it out, and she squealed, "Kathy!" as if she had given up any hope of anyone ever asking me. She's aching to meet you. She and her husband are giving a big party for us on Sunday. By the way, won't we have to let Jane in on it? Phil Green: I hadn't thought so. Kathy Lacey: But we will, won't we? Your mother knows. Phil Green: She had to. Jane and her husband don't. If you want to keep a secret... Kathy Lacey: But wouldn't it be sort of exaggerated with my own sister? Your sister-in-law, almost. I do think it would be inflexible of you. Phil Green: I suppose it would be, inside the family. But they won't let anybody know, will they? Kathy Lacey: They won't breathe it. They want to fight this awful thing just as much as you and I do.
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