MovieChat Forums > City Across the River (1949) Discussion > Why stray so far from The Amboy Dukes?

Why stray so far from The Amboy Dukes?


Shulman's book portrayed tough Jewish street gangs. Then they make a movie and everyone's name is changed. No more Frank Rosen, no more "Crazy" Sachs and no more "Bull" Bronstein. Did they think that postwar America couldn't take the thought of tough Jewish kids? Who did they think Lepke Buchalter, Gurrah and KAbe Reles were, The Katzenjammer Kids?

Buck35

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You raise an interesting point. Aside from Italians, what ethnic/racial group is every protrayed as a unsympathetic gang?

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My post was strictly conjecture on my part. I believe that the film's producers were probably supersensitive
because of the holocaust, forgetting that the author was himself Jewish. Another factor that I believe bears upon ethnic gang portrayals is the fact that Italian, or I should say, Sicilian mobs became dominant because of their cohesion. Many ethnic groups arose in various parts of NYC for the same reasons, and Jews were no different. The big time Jewish mobsters like Buchalter, Gurrah, Abe Reles, et al, were fearsome in their day.
Buck35

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Maybe we're both hyper-cautious, but it should not go unmentioned that Hollywood has heavy representation of Jews in its power centers. (Don't go nuts, some of my best parents were Jews.)

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That's been the case since some smart guys from NY discovered a little place called Hollywood amidst the orange groves. I don't believe that they strayed from Irving Shulman's novel because they were
sensitive themselves, but because they didn't want the media and The Anti-Defamation League raising the roof. Most yokels west of the Hudson didn't know about the ethnic makeup of New Lots Vocational and East New York at that time. The people who lived there knew the score, and wouldn't have minded a bit.
Buck35

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You're right it is speculation. I also believe that the rest of the country was not aware of what New Yorkers knew well, that there were some tough Jewish gangs in the city. I also believe that the Anti-Defamation League would have jumped all over it just a few years after Hitler's pogroms. The book was authentic, the film wasn't. Like when they made Blackboard Jungle and made it look like an ecumenical hellhole instead of portraying the truth that most of the troub;led schools were dominated by one ethnic group or another, and everyone else was cowed into submission.

Buck35

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