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Critical Moments

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In the Yorkville section of New York City where a “Heil Hitler” is a form of greeting and not a social error and where a swastika may be displayed without causing embarrassment there is a movie house called The Yorkville. It is the only theatre in the entire United States that openly welcomes pro-Hitler films imported from Germany. Wolfe Kaufman of Variety, the theatrical weekly, investigated this theatre and states that the ownership is divided among two persons, one of whom, Joseph Scheinman is a Jew.

Scheinman, one of the smaller fry in the business of exhibiting films, is a promoter who is interested solely in the amount of money he can make. Which you must admit is not an unusual interest but unlike many of his coreligionists he has no regard for the consequences of his act in showing Hitler pictures. Scheinman is not to be found at all times at the Yorkville, most of the active management being left to his Gentile partner, but it was the Scheinman money that first backed the house. During its early career business was brisk and a profit was available but that was before “S. A. Mann Brand” came over from Germany. This was a propaganda picture, simple but not so pure. No picture house in America would book this film but Scheinman gave it his blessing and ran it.

For a time it was feared that the Jews and other anti-Hitler groups would forcibly resist the showing of this film but a much more effective method of disapproval was used. Somebody, who should be a statesman, went to the bother of having a handbill printed upon which it was stated that the exhibitor of this pro-Hitler film was a Jew. This message was cleverly scattered over the entire Yorkville district and even reached liberal and Jewish sections of town. The result was swift and effective. Jews who had been patrons of the house refused to attend performances because of the propaganda film and the Nazis couldn’t go because a Jew was running the show. Since that occurrence business has been very bad.


Kaufman, who visited the house one evening last week counted but 31 people in the audience. It was a cool evening and the admission was only 25 cents. About the picture itself Kaufman reports as follows:

“Here’s the newest of the Hitler propaganda pictures to cross the ocean, and it tells a lot in several ways. It’s frank propaganda and no bones about it. It probably won’t get much booking or showing in the U. S. because of the natural restrictions of subject matter, although it’s significant that the distribs have changed the original title to get the word Hitler out and give no inference of what it’s about. In the New York house where caught there was no indication in the front of the theatre of the subject matter or intent of the film in any way.

“There’s another highly interesting item quickly noticeable. That’s the cast, which includes several unnamed players, one of them handling the central and most difficult role, but not even getting billing. That’s in keeping with the Hitler notion of submerging everything and everybody for the general cause.

“Not much sense in reviewing the film as entertainment; it isn’t that. It’s a film with a purpose. But as such it becomes an interesting example of how good German film technique is. It’s a fine job for what it is; it accomplishes its purpose admirably. Film, in fact, is cleverly done.

“It’s the story of a boy brought up in a Communist house. All the Communists who come in are dirty, disheveled and criminal. Kid watches the growth of the nice, clean Nazi youths, who love sane, honest and happy lives. In spite of his upbringing he swings to the Nazi front, at a crucial moment he betrays his parents to warn the Nazis, thus saving the latter from an attack and at the same time becoming a hero.”

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