Not that explicitly bigoted language was unusual in any way. The film was adapted by Moss Hart based on popular author Laura Z Hobson`s bestseller, which she was supposed to write out of outrage at how a congressman had dubbed columnist Walter Winchell a “kike” without anyone making a marble. The Bestseller Gentleman`s Agreement was published in Cosmopolitan (November 1946-February 1947) before being published in book form. In an interview with Cosmopolitan in July 1947, author Laura Z. Hobson said, “What was I trying to do with this book? I believe that a woman who wrote to me wrote it in two wonderful sentences. She says, “The bad guys aren`t really scary. It`s millions of nice people who do and tolerate bad things. I think that`s the heart of what I wanted to say. Hobson noticed that Darryl Zanuck, Fox`s production manager, who made the film his only personal production of 1947, told him that if the film failed to make it to the cinema, it would “push Hollywood back twenty years to honestly address the problem of prejudice.” The film was the first time famous playwright Moss Hart wrote directly for the screen. Director Elia Kazan notes in his autobiography that Jewish leaders from other major film studios held a meeting in which they urged Hart to convince Zanuck not to make the film because they did not want to stir up anti-Semitism. In a March 1947 New York Times article, it was stated: “Some objections [to the film] came from Jews who believe that the image can increase intolerance rather than reduce it, but a much larger proportion of Jewish opinion is approved by the company, according to Zanuck.” In a November 1947 New York Times column, critic Bosley Crowther referred to a rumor that a “well-known Hollywood producer” was trying to convince Hart that the film should not be shot, a situation that is reflected in the film itself, when a Jewish industrialist, quoting Crowther, claims, “You can`t write it by existence. The less we talk about it, the better.
Leave him alone! According to Twentieth Century-Fox legal recordings, scenes were shot in various locations in New York City, including Rockefeller Plaza and NBC Building, as well as in Darien, CT. Los Angeles Daily News explained that John Garfield accepted his limited role in the film after Zanuck promised that the film would remain true to Hart`s script. Advertising for the film says Zanuck Garfield paid “his full star salary” for the role. Reviewing the film, Daily Variety praised Garfield and Celeste Holm`s show and said, “It`s an image where the performances of the secondary actors are equal to or exceed those of the two main actors.” Fox Legal Records reports that Morris Carnovsky was originally hired to play “Professor Lieberman,” but his contract was terminated by mutual agreement. Modern sources indicate that the fox film was the highest-grossing image of 1948, that production cost $2,000,000, and that it was until that time the second largest image in the South. The film received the Oscar for Best Picture and Celeste Holm won as Best Supporting Actress. Gentleman`s Agreement was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor (Gregory Peck), Best Actress (Dorothy McGuire), Best Supporting Actress (Anne Revere), Screenwriter (Moss Hart) and Film (Harmon Jones). According to an announcement by the Motion Picture Herald in April 1948, the film won fifty-one film awards, including the New York Critics` Circle Award.
In a modern interview, Kazan said of the film: “For the first time, someone said that America is full of anti-Semitism, conscious and unconscious and among the best and most liberal people. It was a much more courageous statement then than it is today. He told the audience that you are an average American and that you are anti-Semitic. In his autobiography, Kazan relativized his enthusiasm for the film by finding that it “does not have what would have made it lasting in its effect: the intimate experience of someone who had lived the bitter and humiliating experience.” Critics have praised the film….