Exciting news for lovers of Yiddish theater: the National Center for Jewish Film at Brandeis University has just released a new DVD version of Maurice Schwartz’s 1939 classic
The film has been restored with great care in richly textured black and white from an original nitrate print. Solomon Secunda’s wonderful score also went through a digital clean-up.
Schwartz’s version is loosely-based on two of Sholem Aleichem’s eight TEVYE THE DAIRYMAN stories: CHAVA from 1905 and LEKH-LEKHO from 1916 (with one comic scene thrown in out-of-context from the first story TEVYE STRIKES IT RICK). Those coming to TEVYE from stage and/or screen versions of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF will be very surprised; Hodel, Motel, Perchik, Yente, and other beloved characters are nowhere to be seen. TEVYE contains a whole new cast of characters, most of whom do not appear in Sholem Aleichem’s original stories either.