Henry Lynn

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Henry Lynn
HENRY.LYNN.PowerOfLife.1939.jpg
Production: Power of Life, NYC, 1939
Born (1895-07-21)July 21, 1895
Białystok, Congress Poland
Died August 25, 1984(1984-08-25) (aged 89)
Miami Beach, Florida
Occupation Producer/Director/Writer, Yiddish films
Spouse(s) Kitty Cooperman

Henry Lynn (born July 21, 1895 – August 25, 1984) was a film director, screenwriter, and producer, who concentrated on Yiddish life and culture in the United States, early twentieth century, (1932–1939), the era of Yiddish film in America. Lynn was an innovator in sound technology, frequently commissioned original music, and he used popular radio and opera stars Boris Thomashefsky, Esther Field, and Seymour Rechzeit, as well as New York stage actors like Celia Adler.

Biography[edit]

Henry Lynn was born in the region of Białystok, then Russian Empire, now in Poland. Frustrated by difficulties of obtaining an education in Białystok, he emigrated to America, arriving in Boston in 1912. Initially, he taught languages in Boston and suburbs, Dorchester, Lynn, and Revere. Soon he moved to New York City where he taught Hebrew and Russian, then became a film producer/director/writer, 1932-1939. During WWII Lynn created a business to manufacture plastic products for the war effort,[1] and he was a news commentator on Yiddish Radio station, WEVD. Henry Lynn is survived by his daughter, Lila Lynn, who appeared as a child actress in his 1938 film, The Power of Life. Lynn's wife, Kitty Cooperman, also appeared in The Power of Life.

Career[edit]

From 1932 to 1939, Lynn was writer and/or producer/director of at least 10 Yiddish films, emphasizing family life and the challenges to traditional values. He directed 9 Yiddish films. The first two: The Intolerance of 1933 (1933), and The Youth of Russia (1934), are documentaries and contain rare footage of historical events, e.g., labor union marches in New York City in the early 1930s.[2][3][4]

Lynn was an innovator, implementing Joseph Seiden's new sound technology in The Unfortunate Bride, his 1932 remake of silent film, Broken Hearts (1926).[5] Lynn included Hebrew dubbing in Shir Hashirim by Tel Aviv exhibitor Ya'acov Davidon and produced some short films for theatrical shows. One example is, Papirossen by radio star Herman Yablokoff. This theatrical play was based on a current hit song, Papirosn. Lynn's short 15-minute film featured Sidney Lumet, as an 11-year old cigarette vendor. The play and short film were booked into the Bronx McKinley Square Theatre in 1935. This was one of Henry Lynn's most unusual productions.[6]

Henry Lynn and Joseph Green, a contemporary Yiddish actor and film producer/director, collaborated and distributed Bar Mitzvah (1935) in Europe, notably Poland, where it was playing in 1937 in Warsaw with another film, Green Light with Errol Flynn. Boris Thomashefsky, a popular opera singer and actor at the time, was a co-producer and starred in the film. He sang in Lynn's film, as he had in the earlier 1924 play, Bar Mitzvah, a hit song, Erlekh Zayn (Be Virtuous).[7]

During World War II Henry Lynn and Joseph Seiden suspended their film careers and became defense contractors to assist the war effort. Lynn founded a small plastic products manufacturing company to produce equipment for the Allies war efforts.[1]

Filmography[edit]

  • Mothers of Today (1939) (aka Hayntige Mames)[8][9][10][11]
  • A People Eternal (1939)[12][13][14]
  • The Power of Life (1938) (aka Die Kraft von Leben)[15][16][17]
  • Where Is My Child? (1937) (aka Vu iz mayn Kind? (Yiddish title) or Wo ist mein Kind? (German title))[2][17][18][19]
  • The Holy Oath (1937) (aka Di Heylige Shvue)[20][21]
  • Shir Hashirim (1935) (aka Farbotene Liebe or Forbidden Love or Song of Songs or Verbotene Liebe (reissue title)[22][23][24]
  • Bar-Mitzvah (1935)[25][26]
  • The Youth of Russia (1934) (aka The Yiddish Father or Der Yiddisher Vater or Der Yidisher Foter)[3][27][28]
  • The Intolerance of 1933 (1933) Semi-documentary, owned by Emgee Films, Reseda, California[4]
  • The Unfortunate Bride (1932) (aka Die Ungluckliche Kale)[5][29][30]

Casting[edit]

Many of Lynn's films used popular theatre actors of the era: opera singer/actor, Boris Thomashefsky, actor and director, Sidney Lumet, Celia Adler, Morris Strassberg, Dora Weissman, actor/singer, Seymour Rechzeit, Michal Michalesko, and the popular radio star Esther Field. The production companies were Lynn Productions, Menorah, Empire Films, S & L Films, Sov-Am Films, Judea Films and Apex Films. Jack Stillman was the musical director of most of Lynn’s films, several of which had excellent original compositions by Joseph Rumshinsky, Art Shryer, Ludwig Satz, and William Mercur. Original composition was featured in Shir Hashirim, (Songs of Songs). Lynn made effective use of music to heighten the emotional drama of his films.

Availability[edit]

The National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City have copies of some of these films. DVD and VHS copies of Mothers of Today, Where is my Child and Bar Mitzvah are available from TCM, Brandeis, Ergo, and Israel-Store. The Intolerance of 1933 is available from Glenn Studio, EmGee Films, Reseda, California.

Critical appraisal[edit]

Mothers of Today was reviewed in 1939 by Film Daily:

Heavy tragedy, which seems to be an essential basis of all Yiddish dramas, is done to a turn in this new film and it should please the dyed-in-the-wool Yiddish fans. [...], the film has considerable merit. Cast members, with the exception of the talented Esther Field, were recruited from the stage for their initial appearance on the screen, and they give Miss Field adequate support. Henry Lynn directs the film feelingly.[31]

Shir Hashirim was reviewed in 1935 by The New York Times:[32]

At the Acme Theatre.

H. T. S. Published: October 11, 1935

Just for a change the Little Acme Theatre on Union Square is running a home-made Yiddish talking and singing film instead of an importation from the Soviet Union.

Carrying the rather imposing name "Shir Hashirim" (Song of Songs) and done by popular East Side actors, headed by Samuel Goldenberg (who has appeared in English shows on Broadway), the picture belongs to the highly sentimental mixture of tragedy and comedy which still has an appeal for some seekers of entertainment. With due allowance for circumstances, it must be admitted that Mr. Goldenberg is effective as the middle-aged composer striving to resist the charms of a designing young female (Merele Gruber) who furnishes the inspiration for his new opera "Shir Hashirim." Dora Weissman is competent as his faithful, forgiving wife. The younger actors lend efficient support. The honors for intended humor go to Messrs. Dubinsky and Wendorff as the twin grandfathers.

. . . the spoken dialogue is accompanied by English titles.

SHIR HASHIRIM, a dialogue film in Yiddish, with Samuel Goldenberg, Dora Weissman, Max Kletter, Merele Gruber, Seymour Rechtzeit, Yudel Dubinsky and Ruben Wendorff; music by Joseph Rumshinsky; directed and produced by Henry Lynn.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 323, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  2. ^ a b Brandeis: National Center for Jewish Film
  3. ^ a b Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 199, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  4. ^ a b Glenn Studio, EmGee Films, Reseda, California
  5. ^ a b Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 184, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  6. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 208, 209, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  7. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 207, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  8. ^ Mothers of Today at the TCM Movie Database
  9. ^ Mothers of Today at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ Brandeis: Mothers of Today
  11. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 208, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  12. ^ A People Eternal at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 369, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  14. ^ Clippings, Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York City Public Library
  15. ^ The Power of Life at the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ The Power of Life at the TCM Movie Database
  17. ^ a b Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 209, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  18. ^ Where is My Child at the TCM Movie Database
  19. ^ Where is My Child at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ The Holy Oath at the TCM Movie Database
  21. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 390, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  22. ^ Shir Hashirim at the TCM Movie Database
  23. ^ Shir Hashirim at the Internet Movie Database
  24. ^ Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), page 191n, J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations
  25. ^ Bar Mitzvah at the TCM Movie Database
  26. ^ Bar Mitzvah at the Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ The Youth of Russia at the TCM Movie Database
  28. ^ The Youth of Russia at the Internet Movie Database
  29. ^ The Unfortunate Bride at the TCM Movie Database
  30. ^ The Unfortunate Bride at the Internet Movie Database
  31. ^ Film Daily, 1939
  32. ^ The New York Times
  • Bridge of Light (Yiddish Film Between Two Worlds), J. Hoberman, Museum of Modern Art, Published by Shocken Books, 1991, YIVO translations.

External links[edit]