This week’s movie was the 1964 Israeli film “Sallah” or “Sallah Shabati,” with Topol, Geula Nuni, Gila Almagor, Albert Cohen, Shraga Friedman, Zaharira Harifai, Shaike Levi, Nathan Meisler, Esther Greenberg and Mordecai Arnon.
“Salah” is available on DVD from TCM.
I decided to do a mystery movie from 1964 – but which one? A challenge, because the cutoff date for the Daily Mirror vault is 1960 more or less (Why 1960? Because). I rummaged around in the few movies I have from that year and discovered “Sallah,” which is highly rated, has a big cast and only aired once on TCM – in 2014 for its “Jewish Experience on Film” series. I try to do at least one foreign film a year, so “Sallah” fits that category as well. I thought it might be a stumper until we got to Mrs. Pearl Sonnenschein, but with the Brain Trust I never know. Howard Mandelbaum emailed later to say that he saw “Sallah” in the 1970s at a revival house and thought it had broad, cartoonish humor. Which it does.
Trivia note: Topol was unknown before “Sallah” but his appearance in the film won him the lead in the London version of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which opened in 1967 and was a huge success. Although Zero Mostel originated the role of Tevye on Broadway in 1964 and left an indelible image in the role, there were several other Tevyes over the years, including Luther Adler (1965) and Herschel Bernardi (1965).
Writing in the New York Times (Oct. 13, 1965), A.H. Weiler said:
It is to the everlasting credit of the Israelis, who have had precious few laughs in their brief, strife-torn history, that they can kid themselves with the light-hearted assurance of “Sallah,” a film that opened at the Little Carnegie yesterday. As a comedy, “Sallah” is a rarity in the annals of the tiny Israeli movie colony, but this gentle saga of an unlettered Oriental Jew’s successful campaign against entrenched bureaucracy and the 20th century is more educational than hilarious. Sallah Shabbati and his coterie are an unusual, endearing, often colorful lot, but their humor is largely rudimentary.
For Monday, we have a mystery gent. He does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Shraga Friedman.
Update: This is Friedman and Zaharira Harifai .
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have three mystery guests. This is mystery guest No. 1.
Update: This is Nathan Meisler.
This lady is mystery guest No. 2.
Update: This is Gila Almagor.
And this fellow is mystery guest No. 3.
Update: This is Shaike Levi.
For “Aha Thursday,” we have a mystery woman.
Update: This is Geula Nuni.
We also have this mystery gent.
Update: This is Arik Einstein.
And finally, we have this mysterious gent.
Update: This fellow is so far unidentified.
And for Friday, we have our mysterious leading man.
Update: This is Topol. He was 29 when the film was made.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, Monday’s and Tuesday’s mystery guests, Wednesday’s mysterious leading man’s mysterious son, and Thursday’s mystery woman), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie), Funky PhD (mystery movie and Thursday’s mystery woman), Anne Papineau (mystery movie), Tucson Barbara, (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery woman, Wednesday’s mystery woman, and Thursday’s mystery woman and mystery gent No. 1), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Michael Lott (mystery movie).