Cast & Crew
In Lodz, Poland, Chavchi Samet is the "mamele," or little mother, to her widowed father, three brothers and two sisters, none of whom appreciate the hard work she does to keep their lives orderly, except the two youngest boys, Zimke and Avremel. When Max Katz, an underworld figure with whom Chavchi's sister Bertha is involved, comes to take Bertha away for Sukkoth , a Jewish holiday, Chavchi's father, a layabout, is impressed with Katz. Chavchi, however, is suspicious of him, and she insists that she go along as a chaperone, but Bertha and Katz leave without her. That night, Chavchi hears from across the courtyard, her neighbor Schlesinger, in whom she has tried to get Bertha interested, play the violin, and she sings from her window. Meanwhile, Zimke, who has received some money from Katz to deliver a message to two of his comrades in a club, gets drunk with them. Finding Zimke's bed empty, Chavchi goes to the club and locates him, and when she sees a note with a floor plan and address, she surmises that Katz is a criminal. The next day, on Sukkoth , as the neighbors come for a feast, Chavchi serves Schlesinger, as she urges her neighbor Bailchi to serve her brother David, whom she would like Bailchi to marry. Two men come for Zimke, and Chavchi overhears them talk about a planned robbery. She follows them and sees them make a hole in the wall, then she falls on a ladder, which collapses on them. She takes Zimke home, where she applies bandages to his head. When Katz visits, Chavchi locks him in and, by threatening to shoot him with a fake gun, makes him write a letter to Bertha saying that he never loved her, that the police are after him for a theft, and that he is leaving the country. When Bertha reads the letter, she runs from their room in tears. Chavchi is successful in bringing Bailchi and David together, and Bailchi's parents prepare a meal to celebrate their upcoming wedding. Schlesinger, noticing Chavchi's absence, finds her alone paging through a scrapbook of photographs of her grandmother. As she cries because, she says, no one ever has a good word for her, Schlesinger promises that her day will come. Chavchi now begins to dress up, and when Schlesinger invites her to the opera, she accepts. When Bertha learns that Schlesinger is to be the first violinist and concert master in Chekhotsinek, she asks Chavchi to act as a matchmaker for them. Later, Bertha learns that Chavchi forced Katz to write the letter, and the whole family berates Chavchi. Having had enough of their ingratitude, Chavchi leaves to stay with Schlesinger and his mother at their country home. Without Chavchi, the Samet house quickly becomes a mess, while Chavchi enjoys herself with the Schlesingers. As Schlesinger is about to propose one evening, the Samets turn up and plead for Chavchi to return, but she refuses; however, when Zimke says that he hasn't gone to Hebrew school, and Chavchi sees Avremel's filthy face and neck, she agrees to return for the children's sake. Later, at the wedding feast for Chavchi and Schlesinger, Chavchi, still the "mamele" of the family, makes sure everything is in order and even pours milk for her kitty, before going off with Schlesinger.
The play was reviewed in New York Times under the English title Kid Mother. New York Times and Variety give Little Mother as the English translation of the title. Some scenes in this film were shot in Kazimierz, Poland a suburb outside of Warsaw, in Lodz and in the Warsaw film studios, which were subsidized by the government. This was the third film that Green-Film produced in Poland. According to modern sources, Jacob Kalish, Molly Picon's husband, had unsuccessfully tried in 1932 to get Columbia Pictures to produce an English-language film based on the play, in which Picon starred in the 1920s. Modern sources state that the play takes place in New York's Lower East Side; that Lodz, Poland, where the film version is set, was producer Joseph Green's hometown; that some scenes were shot in Ciechocinek in Poland; that J. M. Neuman did the adaption with Konrad Tom, who received screen credit; and that Jacek Rotmil and Stefan Norris were the designers.