Rabbis or Rakes, Schlemiels or Supermen? Jewish Identity in Charlie Chaplin, Jerry Lewis, and Woody Allen
by Robert Liebman
Film/Literature Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1984
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin) and the world he wants to conquer.
In the topsy-turvy world of Yiddish and, later, Jewish-American narrative, the schlemiel reigns supreme, while the superhero who frequently accompanies him is largely ignored.
This larger than life-size, obviously compensatory doppelganger offers startling insights into Jewish fears of inadequacy, inferiority, and powerlessness—fears which are not necessarily unjustified. Continue reading →
Little Isaac’s birthday party descended into catastrophe if not downright tragedy.
He invited all 20 of his classmates to his birthday bash but, on the day, numerous transportation delays in London stranded 19 guests. Only Ahmed, his neighbour, showed up – as did the cake from a nearby bakery.
The two boys amused themselves until cake-cutting time, when Ahmed insisted that the entire cake should be his. Pandemonium ensued – shouting, fisticuffs, tears. Continue reading →
A native New Yorker (Lower East Side of Manhattan, then Upper West Side) based in London, Robert Liebman is a freelance writer specialising in current affairs, property, personal finance, business, travel and sports – and Second World War photographs.
After attending Stuyvesant High School, Robert attended Brooklyn College (B.A., Philosophy), City College of New York (M.A., English) and the University of Massachusetts (Ph.D., English, 1977). Continue reading →