From Marjorie Morningstar to Midge Maisel: Jewish Women on Screen

In anticipation of Mother’s Day, I have compiled a list of female-centric films I recommend that illuminate the experience of Jewish women. On Sunday, May 10, at 4:00 pm, I will lead a Zoom conversation about the changing image of Jewish women on screen over the years.

The films below all have Jewish women on the creative team, which may account for the more nuanced depiction of their female characters.

Heartburn (1986) Directed by Mike Nichols with a script by Nora Ephron

Included with Amazon Prime

Crossing Delancey (1987) Directed by Joan Micklin Silver, screenplay by Susan Sandler

Included with Amazon Prime

Dirty Dancing (1987) Written by Eleanor Bergstein

For rent on Amazon

Clueless (1995) Written and directed by Amy Heckerling

For rent on Amazon

Kissing Jessica Stein (2001) Written by Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen

For rent on Amazon

The Women’s Balcony (2016) Written by Shlomit Nehama

 For rent on Amazon

The Zookeepers Wife (2017) Written by Diane Ackerman

For rent on Amazon; Free with HBO

Fill the Void (2012) and The Wedding Plan (2017) Written and directed by Rama Burshtein

For rent on Amazon

Our Mother’s Day conversation will touch on these worthy films, as well as some notably negative depictions of the Jewish mother in films such as “Marjorie Morningstar,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Goodbye Columbus,” “Next Stop Greenwich Village,” “The Jazz Singer,” “Portnoy’s Complaint,” “Where’s Poppa,” and “Torch Song Trilogy.” Not coincidentally, all of these were written and directed by men.

We will also discuss notable Jewish female characters on the small screen in television shows such as “The Nanny,” “Girls,” “Sex and the City,” “Will and Grace” (which featured the first prime-time Jewish wedding in TV history), “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “Transparent,” and, of course, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

In addition, we will look at the work of notable Jewish actresses, starting with the iconic Barbara Streisand, and including today’s stars, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Gal Gadot, Melanie Laurent and more.

I will also recommend bios of influential female performers such as “Bombshell: The Hedy Lamar Story” and “Love, Gilda” (both for rent on Amazon), and “The Outrageous Sophie Tucker” (free with Amazon Prime) – all of which were screened at the Boulder Jewish Film Festival.

Happy viewing and I look forward to sharing thoughts about the many ways Jewish women have been presented on the screen with you.

To sign up to join the Zoom conversation, or to be sent the link to watch later, CLICK HERE

About Kathryn Bernheimer

Kathryn has spent her professional life writing about, teaching, and presenting the arts. Founding Director of the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, Kathryn was Director of Menorah and ACE at the Boulder JCC from 2003 through August, 2019. The former film and theater critic for the Boulder Daily Camera, Kathryn is the author of "The Fifty Greatest Jewish Movies" and "The Fifty Funniest Films of All Time."

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