Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG


YOO-HOO, MRS. GOLDBERG (2009). Written, produced, and directed by Aviva Kempner.

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is primarily a biography of Gertrude Berg, who played the much-beloved character of Molly Goldberg on the long-running radio/TV series The Goldbergs. [Her neighbor would yell out of her window, "Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg."] But it is also an evocation of a particular time in history, and a look back at the radio, television and motion picture industries as they were in a different era. In addition, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg also covers everything from WW2, the holocaust and anti-Semitism to the often tragic consequences of the blacklist in the fifties and its effect on many careers in show business. Berg, born Tilly Edelstein, became "the first woman to build a media empire." She wrote but originally had not intended to act on the radio show The Rise of the Goldbergs, but she was so suited for the lead role that she got it, and continued to play the part when it debuted as the TV series The Goldbergs on 1/10/49. Philip Loeb was excellent as her husband, but due to his liberal and labor causes he was branded a communist and CBS dropped the show when Berg refused to drop Loeb. However, Loeb finally had to leave the series when it became apparent that no other network would air the program as long as he was a part of it [he later committed suicide]. The Goldbergs continued with first Harold Stone, and then Robert Harris, as Mr. Goldberg, but it lost much of its audience when the family moved from the Bronx to the suburbs. Although focusing on a Jewish family, it was the universal themes on the program that made it a hit with so many. Berg later wound up doing more than one project with, of all people, Sir Cedric Hardwicke! The movie is bolstered by interviews with the late Berg's relations, co-workers, and many people both in and out of the industry who were greatly influenced by her. Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is charming, sad, and altogether excellent. NOTE: The DVD release of Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg contains many extras, including a few episodes of the series itself. NOTE: This film is available on itunes and on amazon VOD.

Verdict: This is a superb documentary on every possible level. ****

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