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Timeless Classic DVD

A Majority of One

A Majority of One

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Widowed Bertha Jacoby has led a relatively sheltered, monocultural existence in the same predominantly Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood for most of her adult life, and as such has fairly traditional Jewish values. She is taken aback not only when her son-in-law Jerry Black announces that he and Bertha's daughter Alice Black are moving to Tokyo on Jerry's next diplomatic corps assignment, but that they want her to move there with them so that she won't be all alone. Despite her anti-Japanese sentiments, David, her only son, having been killed in World War II in the Pacific Theater, Bertha reluctantly agrees. They will fly from New York City to San Francisco, and sail from there. Against the odds, Bertha befriends on board the ship Koichi Asano, a wealthy widowed Japanese businessman with whom Jerry and the American contingent will be entering into sensitive negotiations. Jerry and Alice are wary of Bertha and Mr. Asano's friendship, not only because of the cultural differences, but because they believe Mr. Asano's sole motive may be to get the upper hand in the negotiations in going through Alice's mother. However, Bertha and Mr. Asano may have a deeper connection than either would have thought, and that can overcome each of their deep seated cultural differences.

STARS: Rosalind Russell, Alec Guinness, Ray Danton

156 min | Comedy, Drama, Family | 1961 | Color


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Great Love Stories
One of the great love stories of all time. If it is possible to fall in love with a movie I fell the first time I saw it. I did not have recorder at the time. I thought it might be a time filler when I saw the listing. I like Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness so I tuned it in. I wish I had a recorder at that time.
It is wonderful movie. It starts with two elderly bigoted, hurt and angry people who go through trials and tribulations with her family and still get together in the end. They are hurt because of family losses during World War II.
It is a quiet romantic comedy that comes off beautifully.
If you like love stories, then this movie is a must.

Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages
I've never seen another love story like A Majority of One. A story of two elderly individuals who are worlds apart having to overcome their racial prejudice, as well as being one of the few films in existence about love at old age. These imperfect and flawed characters feel so real and human, and while two and a half hours may seem overlong, I believe this time is justified. I wish more films could have the level of honest storytelling on display here.
The casting as Alec Guinness as a Japanese businessman has been widely criticised but I have disagree, I thought he was perfectly convincing in the role. His character is flawed, he's not the stereotypical wise old Asian man who is full of otherworldly knowledge which he easily could have been; he makes mistakes and doesn't have the answers to everything. Unlike many Asian characters in Hollywood films, he doesn't talk in broken English or exhibit any other commonly seen Asian stereotypes. Compared to Japanese stereotypes seen in World War II propaganda films 20 years earlier, A Majority of One was certainly a sign of progress.
Why should an actor's race limit the roles they can portray? If they play a character of a different race convincingly and in a non- offence manner, I don't see any reason to be up in arms. Should the roles an actor may want to attempt be limited to only characters of their race? I feel there is a double standard at play here; for a non white actor to be cast in a role or as a character originally conceived as white it will be viewed as forward thinking and progressive; for a white actor to be cast in a non white role then it is considered racist? Film is a business and you need big stars for a movie to be box office hit; how many Asian actors where big stars to American audiences in the early 60's. A movie like A Majority of One was an initial stepping stone to more equal representation in film, perhaps it not succeed as the film was not a box office success but the intent was there.
Rosalind Russell plays a potentially unlikable bigoted character but she manages to make the role endearing with her lovable nature and witty comebacks. I didn't see her character as an exaggerated stereotype. I've seen far more exaggerated representations of Jews in other films (do I even need to list examples?). Her character has lead an ingrown life in Brooklyn, however the movie shows the younger generation of her daughter and son in law holding more progressive views and are less conservative than their elders. Russell won't enter a bedroom wither son in law inhabiting without permission in case he isn't decent; her daughter on the other hand will just walk on in. Likewise the film highlights westernised trends in Japan such as Alec Guinness wearing a western flat cap tot the popularity of American music and Hollywood movies in Japan, while still acknowledging the anti American sentiment which exists in Japan. Also this movie has Eddie, a whiny little brat but in a funny way; I love this guy.

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