Sidney M. Goldin

T. alt.: Mazel Tov. Scen.: Eugen Preiss, Sidney M. Goldin. F.: Eduard Hoesch. Int.: Sidney M. Goldin (Robert Brown), Molly Picon (Molly), Jakob Kalich (Ruben), Simon Nathan (Mottl Brauner), Jda Astori (la moglie), Nelly Spodek (la figlia), Laura Glücksmann (la nonna), Eugen Preiss (Menasche), Eugen Neufeld (lo zio di Ruben), Emmy Flemmich (la moglie di Ruben). Prod.: Listo-Film, Picon-Film. DCP. D.: 90’. Bn

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

It was in Vienna in the years following the end of the First World War that, in the words of J. Hoberman, “the first European movies made by Jews for Jews, from a distinctly Jewish perspective” (Bridge of Light, The University of Chicago Press, 1991) were made. Ost und West is a prime example. Ironically, or perhaps appropriately, the film was directed by an American, Sidney M. Goldin.
Robert Brown (formerly Brauner), a successful New York businessman, returns to the “Old Country” to attend his niece’s wedding. He takes his daughter Molly, whose brash behaviour and New World mannerisms soon clash with her Eastern European family’s traditional ways. Molly stages a mock wedding of her own but, ignorant of custom, winds up married to the timid Talmud student Ruben. Forbidden by tradition to divorce Ruben immediately, Molly returns to America. Ruben, secretly in love with Molly and devastated by her rejection, flees to Vienna where, after undergoing a process of assimilation, he reinvents himself as Ben-Ami and authors a bestselling book, Ost und West (the title, like that of the film itself, a reference to the influential German cultural magazine that ceased publication in April 1923).
Goldin, also an actor, plays the part of Robert Brown himself; a role he was, in a way, born to play, having emigrated to the US from Galicia at an early age. The accidental couple who later come together after Ruben’s successful assimilation are played by real-life husband and wife, and Goldin’s fellow New Yorkers, Jakob Kalich and Molly Picon. Picon, who also produced the film, was largely responsible for its popularity at the time, thanks to her portrayal of the “force of nature” Molly as “the essence of modernity” (Hoberman).
Behind its seemingly unrefined, slapstick exterior, lies a pertinent social satire that reflects the real-life contemporary situation of many Austrian Jews, “presenting the successfully Germanised Jew as a golden mean between the primitive Ostjude and the crass American” (Hoberman).
Long available only in mediocre prints, this new digital restoration of Ost und West allows us to appreciate Goldin’s film in a new light.

Oliver Hanley

Copy From

Restored in 2023 by Filmarchiv Austria from two 35mm nitrate prints preserved at Gosfil’mofond and Filmarchiv Austria. A 16mm print acquired from the National Center for Jewish Film provided two shots that were missing in both nitrate prints