Motel the Operator
Motl der Operator

USA, 1939, 88 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English Subtitles
Directed by Joseph Seiden


RESTORED
with complete new English Subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

DVD - Educational Use
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DVD - Home Use
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Arrange a Screening
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Contact us at jewishfilm(at)brandeis(dot)edu
or call 781-736-8600 to book now

Public Exhibition Format: 35mm, Beta

"A sorrowful and tragic melodrama in the best Yiddish tradition..."
- The Film Daily, 1940

Synopsis
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This classic melodrama captures the sentimental, emotional characters and the convoluted plots and fantastic coincidences which dominated the Second Avenue Yiddish theaters. Focusing on a labor dispute in the garment district of New York City, the film survives as an important historical document highlighting the hardships of the Jewish immigrant experience in America.

Motel, a poor laborer, loving husband and new father, leads cloakmakers in a strike for better working conditions. When he is severely injured by strikebreakers, his wife, Esther, and infant son are left destitute. Desperate to save her starving child, Esther gives him up for adoption to a wealthy couple, and then commits suicide. The richly-rendered beautiful Yiddish songs by Sholem Secunda featuring Cantor Leibele Waldman and Joel Feig's famous choir are a good example of the bittersweet melodrama in the finest tradition of the Yiddish theater.

Selected Screenings
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Doc Films, University of Chicago (2014)
Goethe Institut - Porto Alegre, Brazil (2014)
Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Vienna Film Archive (2008)
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (2004)

NCJF Film Restoration
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Restoration was completed with funding from Rose Alon, Dorys Bernbaum, Helen Zukerman and their families in memory of Jessie Haberfeld Freedman, Louis Freedman and Morris Haberfeld with additional funding from National Endowment for the Arts, Roy and Niuta Titus Foundation, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Kodak, Brandeis University and The Massachusetts Cultural Council

 

Credits
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Director Joseph Seiden
Based on the play by Chaim Tauber
Photography Don Malkames, Charles Levine
Music Sholem Secunda
Sound Murray Dichter, Paul Jacobs
Art Director F. Allstadt
Assistant Director Herman Rosen

2001 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Rich Pontius
Translator Daniella HarPaz
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory Cinema Arts, Inc.

Cast
Chaim Tauber (Motel Friedman)
Malvina Rappel (Esther Friedman)
Maurice Kroner (Benjamin Rosenwald)
Bertha Hart (Rebecca Rosenwald)
Seymour Rechtzeit (Jack Rosenwald)
Jacob Zanger (Joseph Frumkin)
Yetta Zwerling (Chane Beile Frumkin)
Gertrude Krause (Ruth Frumkin)
Herman Rosen (Doctor)
Izidor Frankel (Boss)

Purchase the Film
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 $36.00 + shipping
Home Use Policy (pdf)

Educational Use Pricing Explain
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$72.00 - DVD Classroom/Library Use + shipping

Educational purchase DOES NOT include public performance rights. Library/Classroom Use Policy (pdf)

Also directed by Joseph Seiden
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God, Man and Devil

Great Cantors 2-Disc Set (Performances from The Voice of Israel)

I Want to Be a Boarder

Kol Nidre

The Living Orphan

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