The Light Ahead
Fishke der Krumer

USA, 1939, 94 minutes, B&W
Yiddish with new English subtitles
Produced & Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

with new English subtitles by
The National Center for Jewish Film

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Public Exhibition Formats: 35mm, 16mm, Beta


“A gem radiating warmth and honesty.”
– Jewish Weekly

“An astonishing artifact that is equal parts vaudeville schtick, Talmudic exegesis, and ghetto melodrama.”
– Village Voice

“Yiddish film producers will probably look to The Light Ahead... for their inspiration when new productions are under consideration. As well they might, for the film touches undreamed of heights.”
New York World Telegram, 23 Sept. 1939

“Central to the film is a riveting performance by Helen Beverley as the blind orphan, Hodel... Beverley and Opatoshu are perhaps the most beautiful couple in the history of Yiddish cinema, and their scenes have a touching erotic chemistry.”
– J. Hoberman, Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds


The Light Ahead is possibly the greatest of Edgar G. Ulmer’s shtetl films. Here, the director counterpoints his pastoral Green Fields to criticize the poverty and superstition that oppress a pair of star-crossed lovers. Made on the eve of World War II, The Light Ahead is at once romantic, expressionist, and painfully conscious of the danger about to engulf European Jews.

Impoverished and disabled lovers Fishke and Hodel dream of life in the big city of Odessa, free from the poverty and stifling old-world prejudices of the shtetl. The benevolent and enlightened bookseller Mendele helps them, turning small-town superstitions to their advantage. Based on Mendele Mokher Seforim's story of love frustrated by small-town ignorance, this luminous allegory of escape marries Edgar Ulmer's masterful direction with superb acting by members of New York's Artef and Yiddish Art Theaters.

Selected Screenings

Washington Jewish Film Festival
Edgar Ulmer Series; Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Doc Films, University of Chicago
Edgar Ulmer Series; Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York
Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles
Yiddish Film Festival, Segal Centre; Montreal
Neues Kino Theater, Basel Switzerland
Edgar G. Ulmer Retrospective, Cinémathèque Française, Paris
Fundacion Marcelino Botin, Santander, Spain
Edgar G. Ulmer Retrospective, Filmhouse Cinema, UK
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Goethe-Institut Turin, Italy
Yiddish Foundation, Amsterdam
Green Mountain Film Festival, Vermont
Chicago YIVO Summer Series
Haifa Jewish Film Festival
UC Berkley Art Museum
British Film Institute, London
Museum Jewish Heritage, New York
American Museum Moving Image, New York
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival
Musee d’Art de Histoire du Judaisme, Paris
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles
Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Austria
Jewish Film Week, Austria
Festival del Popoli, Italy
Montreal Jewish Film Festival
Barbican Centre, London UK
Laemmle Theaters, Los Angeles
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Film Forum, New York
Festival International du Film Juif et Israelien, Montpellier
Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
Festival International du Film d'Amiens, France
George Eastman House, Rochester
Museum of Modern Art, New York
UCLA Film & Television Archive, Los Angeles

Film Credits

Associate Producer Peter E. Kassler
Dialogue Izidore Cashier
Adaptation and Dialogue Chaver Paver
Screenplay Sherle (Shirley) Ulmer, Edgar G. Ulmer
Assistant Directors Wolf Mercur, Fred Kassler
Editor Jack Kemp
English Titles Julien Leigh
Camera J. Burgi Contner, Edward Hyland
Sound N. Dean Cole
Landscapes and Settings Edgar G. Ulmer & Robert Benney
Makeup Edward Zenz
Costumer Aaron Mensch
Producer/ Director Edgar G. Ulmer
An Ultra Film Distributors Release

Izidore Cashier (Mendele Moicher Sforim)
Helen Beverley
David Opatoshu (Fishke)
Rosetta Bialis (Drabke)
Tillie Rabinowitz (Neche)
Anna Guskin (Gitel)
Celia Budkin (Chaye)
Jenny Cashier (Dobe)
Yudel Dubinsky
Misha Fishson
(Reb Aaron)
Leon Seidenberg
(Alter Yaknehose)
Wolf Mercur (Getzel Ganev)
Leon Shachter
Wolf Goldfaden
Israel Mandel (Yisrolick)
Nuchim Brind (Chaim Shuster)
Morris Shorr (Hershl Kremer)
Zishe Katz (Badchen)
Benny Adler
Misha Budkin
Helen Beda
Charles Cohenn
Abraham Fishkind
Isaac Gladstone
Solomon Krause
Saul Nagoshiner
Isaak Rothblum
Ben-Zion Shoenfeld
Louis Weisberg

NCJF Film Restoration

Preservation and restoration was made possible by Sidney & Dorothy Stogel,
Arnold & Ruth Picker and Herman Axelbank
Special Thanks to Shirley Ulmer, Arianne Ulmer Cipes

1982 Restoration © The National Center for Jewish Film
Executive Producer Sharon Pucker Rivo
Assistant Director Miriam Saul Krant
Technical Director Henry Felt
Production Assistant Rhoda Alper
Translator David G. Roskies
Laboratory Cinema Arts, Inc.
Titles The Title Works
On-line Editing Context Media
Film donated through the generosity of Sidney & Dorothy Stogel

Purchase the Film

Home Use DVD: $29.95

Does not include Classroom or Library Use Rights or Public Performance Rights. More Information


Classroom/Library Use DVD: $250

Does not include Public Performance Rights. More Information

Special Offer

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Also with Helen Beverley

Green Fields

Overture to Glory

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