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FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971)

This adaptation of one of Broadway's greats features the stories of Sholom Aleichem. Tevye is an Orthodox Jewish peasant living in pre-revolutionary Russia who copes with the daily toil of 'shtetl' life. Along the way, nuances of Russian government, Sholom's family adventures, Orthodox Judaism, and 'shtetl' life are exposed. But the encroachment of the Bolshevik Revolution, however, threatens the safety of the humble farmer, Sholom, his family, and his quiet Jewish community.

The cast includes: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, Paul Mann, Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, Neva Small, and Candice Bonstein.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF was nominated for the Best Picture award.

Director / producer, Norman Jewison with "Fiddler on the Roof" delivered a perfect musical/dramatic entertainment. Jewison received a nomination for best directing.

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Based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, this filmed version of the stage play captures the energy, fun and drama of the original play, and is a truly entertaining classic musical. The Screenplay was by Joseph Stein, adapted from his stage play.

The basic story involves a poor, Jewish, Russian peasant milkman, Tevye (Topol), his wife, Golde (Norma Crane), and his family of five unmarried daughters, who live in a traditional, Jewish community in pre-revolutionary Russia. The plot revolves around their family's struggles between traditional Jewish values and the changing times. Each of his three eldest daughters, Tzeitel (Rosiland Harris), Hodel (Michele Marsh) and Chava (Neva Small) in some way, cross traditional Jewish customs/values in finding and choosing a husband. He tries to cope with, and work out most of these value clashes, periodically talking to God.

The entire cast is excellent. Topol is perfectly cast as the robust, life- loving, title character. While this film certainly represents the high point of his career, he has continued to deliver noteworthy performances over the years, in a wide range of films, including: "Flash Gordon" and "For Your Eyes Only."

Leonard Frey earned a Best supporting actor nomination for his convincing portrayal of the poor tailor, Motel who musters up his nerve to ask Topol for his blessing for the marriage pledge that Motel and oldest daughter, Tzeitel made to each other.

My choice of a favorite scene is a tie, between the whole opening/title sequences and the nightmare scene/song; both are great!

A close second is the matchmaker song sequence where the two oldest daughters, Tzeitel and Hode l (Michele Marsh) explain to the third daughter, Chava (Neva Small) how she could be stuck with a match made by Yente, the town match maker. She mistakenly had her eye on the Rabbi's son. Nothing like a sisterly talk to point out reality.

Music for stage play and film were by Jerry Bock, with lyrics for stage, play and film, by Sheldon Harnick. The film has numerous great songs, including: "If I Were a Rich Man," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," and "Sunrise, Sunset." The Musical Score was Adapted and Conducted by John Williams. Mr. Williams went on to huge fame with the music for the STAR WARS movies, INDIANA JONES movies, and many others.

Quotes...

Oldest Daughter Tzeitel: "But Mama, the men she finds. The last one was so old and he was bald. He had no hair".

Golde: "A poor girl without a dowry can't be so paticular. You want hair, marry a monkey".

If you enjoyed FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, you may like: YENTL, HESTER STREET, BRIGADOON, FLASH GORDON, HELLO DOLLY, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.