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Poster for Mamele film 1938.jpg
Directed byJoseph Green &
Konrad Tom
Written byKonrad Tom
Meyer Schwartz
StarringMolly Picon
Edmund Zayenda
Release date
December 24, 1938
Running time
97 minutes

Mamele (Yiddish: מאמאלעPolish: Mateczka) is a Yiddish Language Polish musical film made in 1938.


Set in Łódź, the film revolves around Khavtshi Samet (Picon), a Cinderella figure, who has taken on maternal responsibility for her family after the death of her mother — hence the title, Mamele, or 'little mother.' Khavtshi is required to shop, cook and clean up after her unappreciative family. Furthermore, she must keep her siblings out of trouble: her younger brother gets mixed up with crooks and her sister Berta (Bullman) has eyes for the gangster Maks Katz (Menashe Oppenheim). Eventually Khavtshi's morale breaks, and she moves in with the handsome musician Schlesinger (Zayenda) across the courtyard. In this period of distress Khavtshi imagines the life of her grandmother in a dream-like song and dance sequence. The Samet family begs for Khavtshi to return, which she does with Schlesinger. The film closes with Khavtshi busy preparing the feast during her wedding.[1]



Mamele marks the second collaboration between Green and Picon after their success with Yiddle with His Fiddle. Green, by then an American citizen, was in Europe preparing for filming of A Letter to Mother, when Picon's husband (and manager) proposed that the two should make another film.[1] Picon suggested to adapt the play of Mamele which she had performed years before onstage and although Green was reluctant to make a film based on a play, he eventually agreed.[2] Green convinced the cast and crew of A Letter to Mother to hold off production for some time and Mamele was filmed in six weeks in the fall of 1938, mostly in Warsaw with some exteriors shot in Ciechocinek.[3] Green took great care to show many aspects of typical shtetl life, depicting holidays, nightclubs, unemployment and gangsterism.


  1. ^ a b Chaim Pevner (1999). "Joseph Green, the visionary of the golden age". In Paskin, Sylvia (ed.). When Joseph met Molly: A Reader on Yiddish Film. Five Leaves. ISBN 9780907123927.
  2. ^ Goldberg, Judith N. (1983). Laughter Through Tears: The Yiddish Cinema. London: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 9780838630747.
  3. ^ Goldman, Eric A. (1983). Visions, images, and dreams: Yiddish film past and present. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press. ISBN 9780835715157.

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