Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:NR
Profanity:None
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:None
Violence/Scariness:None
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:July 10, 2009
DVD Release Date:August 24, 2010

Gertrude Berg is described in this sympathetic and engaging documentary as an earlier version of Oprah. She wrote every word of over twelve thousand scripts. She played the lead role and oversaw every element of the programs on radio, in television, and in a feature film. She branched out to a line of clothing and a cookbook. She was the first “first lady of television” before Lucille Ball took the title. It is probably more due to Desi Arnaz’s three-camera system for making infinitely rerun-able tapes that has kept “I Love Lucy” in the forefront while shows of equal quality faded from the airwaves.

Aviva Kempner (The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg) has assembled archival footage and contemporary interviews to illuminate the life of this pioneering writer/actress/producer. The film may go too far in giving Berg credit for creating the sit-com, but it makes a convincing case for her stature and influence, even more impressive in light of the era’s bigotry and the restrictions on professional advancement for both Jews and women.

For many people, “The Goldbergs” was their first exposure to a non-stereotyped Jewish family. Among the film’s most affecting interviews are the comments from viewers who speak of what the show meant to them, including the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who says that since her mother had no family, they thought of the Goldbergs as their relatives, and from non-Jewish women who talk about how the series’ portrayal of family felt very much like their own experiences and cultures.

The saddest part of the film is the portion about Philip Loeb, who played Berg’s husband on the series until his name came up during the era of the blacklist. Berg showed great courage and integrity in fighting to keep him on the show and he showed great honor in insisting that the show go on without him. The tragic outcome is conveyed with great sympathy and feeling.

Kempner has a real gift for making these almost-forgotten lives fascinating and vital. Perhaps most important, the film made me sorry that the very intriguing clips from Berg’s television series didn’t go on longer. I’d like to spend more time with the Goldbergs.



  • Tracy

    I saw this movie with my parents and really enjoyed it. At 18, I was too young to have ever heard of The Goldbergs, but when I saw the trailer, I was intrigued. I liked seeing how much modern sitcoms owe to The Goldbergs, and was astounded at the amount of work Berg did for the program. She was an inspiring woman! I hope more people see this one because I think Berg hasn’t gotten as much of the credit she perhaps deserves.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks so much, Tracy! One of the things I liked best in the film was the segments from the Edward R. Murrow interview where we got to see Berg as herself. I thought the last quote from her, about her character, was a perfect way to end it. I am so glad you saw and liked the film!

  • Andrew

    Your review of this film is truly remarkable for its clarity and insight. The star Sirius isn’t as bright as your smile and you are never wrong about anything. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Gosh, Andrew, you made my day! Many thanks and it was a pleasure to review this wonderful film.

  • Tim1974

    I have never heard of this series before or any of the characters that were mentioned. However, being a sports fan, I did see ‘The Life and Times of Hank Grenberg” and thoroughly enjoyed that. If Kempner can bring the same energy to this documentary as that I would feel it is going to be good. I always look forward to learning something new and I am looking forward to this. By the way Nell, does it give iany explanation as to why Philip Loeb was blacklisted ? Thanks

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Tim. Loeb was blacklisted during the McCarthy era on suspicion of being a former Communist, but like most people targeted during that time the allegations were untrue.

  • Alicia

    I’ll definitely add this to my Netflix queue :-)

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