And Judaism and Judaism are almost completely absent. It is an important (and coherent) part of the film`s liberalism to emphasize that it is humanly impossible to distinguish between the Jew and the non-Jewish. But there is no visible Jewish home, no Jewish culture, no menora, no synagogue. Dave is — important — far from home and trying to find a place to rent. Phil and his fiancée meet a famous Jewish scientist, Fred Liebermann (Sam Jaffe), and he is an exotic European intellectual, like Albert Einstein, who talks about Zionism and the Palestinian homeland. But that`s all. And the film is very apolitical, apart from references to forgotten far-right figures like Theodore G Bilbo and Gerald LK Smith. The film was controversial in its day, as was a similar film on the same theme, Crossfire, released the same year (while this film was originally a story of homophobia, which was later turned into anti-Semitism). In 1947, the Oscar for Best Picture was awarded to Gentleman`s Agreement with Gregory Peck as a campaign reporter on a mission. The awards for Best Director were also awarded to Elia Kazan and Best Supporting Actress to Celeste Holm.
At first glance, this sounds like a “publishing film” rather worthy of the 1940s, the kind of film the Academy thought it was honoring. But gentleman`s Agreement is always a captivating, fascinating, somewhat boring, by turns naïve and very sharp film, fascinating for what it puts and omchant. It is about the anti-Semitism of prosperous post-war America and the insidious way in which Jews were excluded from high-level social clubs, resorts and, of course, jobs. There have been no official bans, just a nod and a nod and a “gentleman`s agreement” between nice conservatives they know the kind of people they want to be associated with. This is the kind of everyday prejudice that Groucho Marx elegantly dismissed with his joke that he did not want to join a club that would have him as a member. Gentleman`s Agreement was generally well received by the influential New York Times critic, Bosley Crowther. Crowther stated that “every point about the prejudices that Miss Hobson had to make in her book was made with superior illustration and more graphic demonstration in the film, so that the momentum of her moral indignation is not only broadened, but is strengthened.” But Crowther also said the film shared the novel`s failures by “narrowly limiting explorations at the social and professional level of the upper class, to which it is immediately exposed.” He also said that the main character`s shock at the scale of anti-Semitism lacked credibility: “It`s an extraordinarily naïve role in careful analysis.”  Not that the explicit bigot language was unusual in some way.