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Primary Sources & Lesson Plans
Document Study Sheet

Yiddle Mitn Fiddle, 1936

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About this Film

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Historical Background

Discussion Questions

Level: Middle School and above


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More Document Study Sheets

More of this TYPE: Film

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1900-1949

More on these TOPICS: Arts & Recreation


HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

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A longtime star of Yiddish theater and film, Molly Picon began performing in vaudeville. Her career flourished in the Second Avenue theaters of the Lower East Side, the center of immigrant Jewish life in New York. She became an icon for second-generation Jews who wanted a synthesis between their immigrant roots and their new American identities. Film, in general, was the great homogenizing agent of American culture. Picon’s success in both Yiddish and American films is testimony to her acceptance not only by a Jewish audience, but also by the broader culture.

In this film, made in Poland in 1936, Picon plays a young girl who dresses up as a boy so she and her father can earn a living as traveling musicians. They meet another father and son team, and the four join together for a comedic and musical tour. The trouble begins when Picon’s character falls for the “other” son. In this scene, Picon sings to herself and asks her deceased mother what she should do about her quandary.

For more information on this film and the career of Molly Picon, go to JWA’s Women of Valor exhibit.

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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1. What is the demeanor of Picon’s character?

2. Picon’s actions are exaggerated. What does this mode of acting convey?

3. What has the director done to set the tone for this scene?

4. The film is set in Poland before World War II. What are the clues to its time and place?

5. Why did Picon’s character have to pretend to be a boy?


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How to Cite This Page
Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Films - Yiddle mitn Fiddle." <http://jwa.org/primarysources/film_01.html>.