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2016-04-08 digital edition

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April 8, 2016  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Blockbuster exhibition features rare movie posters

Gregory Peck as King David in David and Bathsheba. Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments. Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan in Exodus. Kirk Douglas as Colonel Mickey Marcus in Cast a Giant Shadow. Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca of York in Ivanhoe. Joan Collins as Queen Esther in Esther and the King and Sophia Loren as a Haganah operative in Judith.

Hollywood films in the three decades after World War II portrayed 4,000 years of Jewish historical identity and, in some of the biggest box office hits of all times, transformed the image of the Jew from embattled to triumphant. More than 100 flamboyant posters and bold advertising materials are featured in Cinema Judaica: The Epic Cycle (1947-1971) on view at the Jewish Museum of Florida- FIU (JMOF-FIU) in Miami Beach through Oct. 23.

“Hollywood’s depictions of Biblical heroes and love stories, courage in resisting anti-Semitism, and fighting for modern Jewish statehood offered a powerful reflection of the growing self-confidence of American Jewry during these pivotal decades after the Holocaust,” said Jean Bloch Rosensaft, director of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, the original organizer of the exhibit. “These iconic images influenced the positive Jewish self-image of the “boomer generation” and provided a cultural and sociological context for the successful Americanization of the Jewish experience, which we continue to enjoy in our own time.”

The exhibition describes how the commercial success of Cecille B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah (1949) ushered in two decades of expensively produced ancient historical films, as well as Italian and Spanish “sword and sandal” knock-offs. It details how Ben-Hur capped a record Oscar sweep as well as a citation by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for “promoting the cause of good will and understanding among all peoples of the nation.”

The theme of modern anti-Semitism emerged in such 1950s films as The Young Lions and I Accuse! (1958), based on the Dreyfus Trial.

The exhibition documents the emergence of Holocaust films: The Diary of Ann Frank (1959) and Conspiracy of Hearts (1960). The 1961 capture and trial of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann spurred the production of Operation Eichmann! (1961) and Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), while 1965 saw the first theatrical showings of Ship of Fools, The Pawnbroker, and The Shop on Main Street.

The exhibition also includes rare posters from films of limited distribution that were produced by Jewish or Israeli filmmakers during this period.

Admission is complimentary for museum members at the $125 Level+ or $18 for all other museum members. Non-members can join at the door.

Tickets are available online at

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