USA, 1938, 82 minutes
Public Exhibition Format: 35mm, Beta
"The dual reading that Two Sisters demands mirrors the mindset of its original audience. Eager to assimilate into American society (or more exactly, for their children to be assimilated), yet conscious of their own connection to a dying traditionalism, the Yiddish audience for the movie were part of [Irving] Howe's `transitional generation,' stoically postponing gratification for the sake of their offspring. By presenting the psychic stresses of assimilation as an optimistic tragedy (or a grotesque comedy), Two Sisters acknowledged the situation of this transitional generation with a directness that precludes escapism."
-J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds
Selected Film Festival Screenings
Doc Films/ University of Chicago (2014)
Finnish Film Archive (1996)
Pacific Film Archive (1995)
Is Two Sisters domestic tragedy or dark comedy? Any way that you look at it, make sure there's a tissue nearby: On her deathbed in a Bronx tenament, Mrs. Glickstein extracts a promise from her eldest daughter Betty: that she will be both sister and mother to her younger sister Sally, and to do everything to ensure her happiness.
From then on Betty works tirelessly supporting her sister through nursing school, her fiancee through medical school and her father in a TB sanatarium only to have her happiness shattered when her sister and fiancee fall in love. Jennie Goldstein puts in a command performance as the "pathological arch-martyr" Betty, including a rampage through her fiancee's office declaring everything, including him, belongs to her!
This family drama of personal sacrifice and devotion without end amidst the struggle to succeed in America provides a perfect vehicle for Jennie Goldstein. The screenplay, which combines slapstick humor and deep pathos, is typical of the once-vibrant Second Avenue Yiddish theater and preserves Jennie Goldstein's only film appearance.
"Jennie Goldstein has selected an ambitious vehicle for her film debut: Two Sisters, well-directed by Ben K. Blake is an excellent crowd-pleaser."
"Compared to The Singing Blacksmith, The Dybbuk and Tkies Kaf, Two Sisters is by far the best-produced picture. Jennie Goldstein re-enacts the fine dramatic moments with abundant talent."
-New York Jewish Journal
NCJF Film Restoration
Restoration was completed with The National Foundation for Yiddish Culture with additional support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The National Film and Sound Archive (Cranberra, Australia), Kadimah Jewish Cultural Center (Melbourne, Australia), Brandeis University, The American Film Institute, The Massachusetts Cultural Council, The National Endowment for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Humanities
Director/ Producer Ben K. Blake
Screenplay Samuel H. Cohen based on his original story
Assistant Director Moe Goldman
Photography George F. Hinners
Art Director William Saulter
Music Yosef Rumshinsky
Editor Harry Fostar
Sound Paul Robillard
1991 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Director Sharon Pucker Rivo
Associate Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Rich Pontius
Translator Sylvia Fuks Fried
Title Production Loren S. Miller
Title Animation Frame Shop
Laboratory John E. Allen, Inc.
Jennie Goldstein (Betty Glickstein)
Sylvia Dell (Sally Glickstein)
Celia Boodkin (Mrs. Glickstein)
Betta Bialis (Betty Glickstein as a child)
Joan Carroll (Sally Glickstein as a child)
Muni Seroff (Dr. Max Feinberg)
Harvey Kier (Dr. Jack Glickstein)
Abraham Teitelbaum (Gershon Glickstein)
Jack Wexler (Laibush Glickstein)
Rebecca Weintraub (Channa Glickstein)
Michel Rosenberg (Chyimitcha)
Betty Jacobs (Dubrish)
Yudel Dubinsky (Shatchin)
Ida Adler (Supervising Nurse)
Anna Levine (First Customer)
Anetta Hoffman (Second Customer)
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