Israel - 1974
Director- Menahem Golan
Cannon Films, 1990, VHS
Run Time - 2 Hours, 3 min.
Holy shit, this is really quite unbelievable. It’s an Israeli musical! The credit sequence itself is full of alternating shots of an old fisherman telling the sorrowful tale of the Jews and the little town of Jaffa, and shots of a gang of young men in 70’s couture dancing in the streets and raising a ruckus. Casablan is a Moroccan Jew from Casablanca (really?) whose real name is Joseph Shiman-Tov, has a thing for Rachel, the beautiful young daughter of a Polish Jew family. Although they all live in the same slummy part of Jaffa, Rachel’s parents disapprove of the carousing Casa and his friends and their penchant for tight bell-bottoms. Now come the songs.
· Casa sings a song about self-respect.
· All the Jews of Jaffa sing a song about the diversity of Jewish culture.
Casa confronts Rachel’s parents and demands that Rachel come out of the house and bid him good morning. Reluctantly she acquiesces.
· Casa sings about home and unrequited love.
Soon, the government authority shows up in the slums of Jaffa to inform the residents of their intent to raze the condemned and apparently unlivable homes. The neighborhood gets together and has a big vote on what to do about it, deciding to pool their income and fix the ‘hood up.
· Ensemble song about voting and the beauty of the democratic process.
Casa comes across Rachel at the store of the lascivious local shoe salesman and saves her from the salesman’s impertinent advances. Casa tells his friends who have been constantly follow him around like a pack of dancing hippie vultures to beat it, and he walks Rachel home alone.
· Casa’s pals sing about having fun and ogling girls.
After leaving Rachel at her home, Casa is accosted and beaten by the shoe salesman’s hired muscle.
· Song about how Jaffa is really great because even though the hood aint pretty, it is in a Jewish gangsta’s blood.
At the local bar, Rosa’s, Casa and his pals commiserate.
· Song about how much they love Rosa and her bar.
Rachel, who actually really does like Casa, invites him over for lunch with her parents. He reluctantly goes, and has an unfortunate experience with gefilte fish because that’s a funny joke for Ashkenazi Jews to play on all the other Jews. Afterwards, Rachel and Casa take a day trip to Jerusalem where they visit all the hopping tourist destinations. Meanwhile, the shoe salesman pays a visit to Rachel’s pops to try and get him to consent to their marriage, but Rachel’s father denies him. Somewhere during the course of the days visits to Rachel’s household, the community moneybox, which is in her fathers care, disappears. Of course, everyone suspects Casa, not because he’s brown no, but because he sings and dances in the street with a pack of , uh well, singing dancing hoods. For this crime he is arrested.
· Rachel’s love song about Casa in jail.
Casa’s old army buddy, now working as chief of police gets him out of the clink simply on the basis of their previous friendship. Showered with racism from his fellow Jews, Casa seeks the same hypocritical retribution that his tormentors have visited upon him for their own previous sufferings, and hey, that’s considered a happy ending in the Promised Land. Which brings us to the final soaring tune;
· A song about making peace with yourself.
This is a bizarre and dated spinoff of Shakespeare via West Side Story via Zionistic Judaism and opens a brief window into a different cultural era. Entertaining enough and highly amusing for a completely detached young American to watch 32 years after the fact particularly considering the subsequent legacy of director Golan who went on to found Cannon Films with Yoram Globus and produce some of the finest American schlock ever to grace the screen. Here the aspiring Golan reveals some of his future sleazegrinder with various scenes of funky disco beats and gratuitous shots of girls asses and crotches and naked men running about. And of course what Israeli romantic-musical-comedy would be complete without a bris?