Cast & Crew
In 1899, in Grodno, a region in Poland, Mirele Efros, a wealthy widow who has built a flax business from scratch, is one of the most respected persons. When her son Yosel is about to marry Shaindel, who is from a poor but good family of the town of Slutsk, Mirele travels to meet the bride's family. Mirele is offended by the demand of Shaindel's pushy mother Chana-Dvoire that Mirele give them money for a fancy wedding before the ceremony. Mirele orders her bookkeeper Shalmon to pack and return to Grodno, but she later relents, and the wedding proceeds. Sometime later, Shaindel demands that Yosel be given his share of his inheritance from his father. Mirele then relates that when her husband died sixteen years earlier, she turned down offers to marry again so that she could rear her two children and share their joys. No one but Shalmon knew that her husband died bankrupt, owing 60,000 rubles. Through hard work, Mirele paid the debts and made the fortune that she now controls. She says, however, that if it will make her son and daughter-in-law happy, they can take control of the business. Despite Shalmon's objections, Mirele signs away all her wealth and property. After Shalmon is let go, Shaindel's father Nuchumtze replaces him as manager. Nuchumtze is sent to buy flax, but because he waits to receive a rabbi's blessing before the purchase, the flax rots in the rain. The Polish peasants from whom he agreed to buy the flax insist that he pay them, and when he returns and reports the incident, the family castigates him for losing 4,000 rubles. Meanwhile, Shalmon brings two men, who represent a committee that plans to build a hospital, to Mirele, who now spends her time making preserves and feeding ducks. The men complain that her family will not honor her previous commitment to renew contracts with them. Seeing her shame, Shalmon offers the committee 5,000 rubles, which he falsely says was lent to him by Mirele years earlier to buy a house. After the men leave, Mirele calls the family together and demands money to repay Shalmon and, when they refuse, pleads with them to loan it to her. When Shaindel, to whom Yosel has signed over the property, refuses entreaties from both Mirele and Yosel, Mirele leaves the home she came to twenty-five years earlier and goes to Shalmon to ask for work. Shalmon confesses that since his wife died, he has come to think of Mirele as more than an employer, but Mirele's shocked silence causes him to abandon his romantic entreaty. Shalmon suggests that they become partners, but as she does not want to compete with Shaindel, she agrees only to keep his books. As time passes, Shalmon's business increases, and the money Mirele makes goes to the hospital, while Shaindel's tyrannical nature causes her business to lose money each year. When Yosel and Shaindel's child Shloimele has his bar mitzvah , or confirmation, Mirele gives Yosel a watch for the boy, but refuses to come to the ceremony. After a fight between Yosel and Shaindel, she visits Mirele and tells her that she provoked the split in the family because she wanted Yosel to break loose from Mirele. Because their marriage is in danger, she now begs Mirele to return, but Mirele pridefully refuses. Shloimele then tells Mirele that he had to fight boys in the street because the story has spread that his grandmother had been kicked out of the house. When Mirele still refuses to return, Shloimele gives back the watch, calls her a "bad grandma" and leaves. At the bar mitzvah , Mirele appears in the doorway. The family gathers around her as she sits in her chair. She tells them that whether they are good children or bad children, they are children after all and grasps their hands.
J. Burgi Contner
Madam Anna Kay
The screen credits began with the words "Commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the death of the celebrated Jewish playwright Jacob Gordin" appearing over a statue of Gordin. A modern source states that the play most likely has been the most widely performed Yiddish play. The screen credits called the film "A New Version by Ossip Dymow." Ruth Elbaum's screen credit states that she is appearing "by courtesy of Pins and Needles," a Broadway play in which she was acting. According to news items, Roman Rebush organized Credo Pictures, Inc. and planned this film as the first of four Jewish films. This, however, was the only film produced by that company. This film was re-issued in 1949. An earlier film version of the play was made in 1912 in Poland.