Skokie (film)

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Poster of the movie Skokie.jpg
Genre Drama
Written by Ernest Kinoy
Directed by Herbert Wise
Starring Danny Kaye
Eli Wallach
Carl Reiner
George Dzundza
Brian Dennehy
Ed Flanders
Theme music composer Ralph Berliner
Country of origin  United States
Original language(s) English language
Executive producer(s) Bernard Sofronski
Herbert Brodkin
Producer(s) Robert Berger
Cinematography Alex Thomson
Editor(s) Stephen A. Rotter
Running time 125 minutes
Production company(s) Titus Productions
Distributor CBS
Original network CBS
Original release November 17, 1981

Skokie is a 1981 television movie directed by Herbert Wise, based on the real life NSPA Controversy of Skokie, Illinois, which involved the National Socialist Party of America.

The film premiered in the US on November 17, 1981. It was shown on the Israeli Educational television in the 1980s and on German television on March 3, 1997.


The peace of Skokie, a comfortable suburban village located just north of Chicago, is threatened when Frank Collin (George Dzundza), a politically astute neo-Nazi organizer, selects the place as the site of his next rally. Close to 40 percent of the village’s population is Jewish, and many of them are survivors of the Holocaust. They see the march as a warning and reminder of their days as concentration camp prisoners.

The Jewish community decides to stand against the rally at all costs to make sure that the Holocaust will never be forgotten or allowed to happen again.

Moderate leaders Bert Silverman (Eli Wallach) and Abbot Rosen (Carl Reiner) advise the Jewish community to ignore the neo-Nazis; the strategy they put forward is "quarantine", isolating the meeting by totally ignoring the neo-Nazi presence and refusing to be provoked. The logic is simple: if the Jewish community refuses to acknowledge the rally and thus refuses to feed the media any publicity, the meeting will be futile and eventually forgotten.

However, one citizen challenges their argument. A Holocaust survivor, Max Feldman (Danny Kaye), says that he was told to ignore the Nazis nearly 40 years ago in Germany, and before he knew it he was in a concentration camp. He says this time he will take action, and he is ready to shed blood if necessary. Led by this de facto spokesman, most members of the community agree to protest. The film spans a year and a half of legal battles and explores the meaning of freedom and First Amendment in the United States of America.

Analysis and background[edit]

The film intermixes real and fictional characters and events, including fictionalizing aspects of some of the main characters. For example, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawyer "Herb Lewisohn" (played by actor John Rubinstein) is fictional, apparently based on attorney (and later law professor) David A. Goldberger who argued the case in real life,[1] while ACLU national lawyer Aryeh Neier (played by actor Stephen D. Newman) is a real person. Similarly, Holocaust survivor "Max Feldman" is fictional, while Holocaust survivor Sol Goldstein (played by actor David Hurst) is a real person.[2] Although filmed after it became public knowledge that the neo-Nazi leader Frank Collin was actually an ethnic Jew, the film makes no mention of this fact. Nor is any mention made of Collin's 1979 conviction for child molestation.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David A. Goldberger, Isadore and Ida Topper Professor Emeritus of Law". Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University. Retrieved 2010-09-19. 
  2. ^ Strum, Philippa (1999). When the Nazis Came to Skokie: Freedom for Speech We Hate. Landmark Law Cases and American Society. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-0941-3. 

External links[edit]