Mamele

This 1938 comedy has the tragic distinction of being the last Yiddish-language film produced in Poland before the Nazi invasion, but it’s also a fantastic showcase for Molly Picon, a beloved stage performer who, ten years earlier, starred in the play on which the film is based. She plays a poor but headstrong young woman who has cared for her father, brothers, and sisters ever since her mother died. With humor and ingenuity, this feisty mamele (“little mother”) keeps wayward family members out of trouble and finds spouses for her grown siblings, too occupied to return the affections of the handsome musician who lives across the street. Picon shows off the full range of her talents during a musical number in which she plays the heroine’s grandmother from childhood to old age. Joseph Green and Konrad Tom directed. In Yiddish with subtitles.