Cast & Crew
Jewish mother Molly Goldberg looks after her neighbors in her Bronx, New York, tenement as if they were family, and still has plenty of love and energy for her stern and reserved husband Jake, her uncle David, a tailor, her college-age son Sammy, and her daughter Rosalie. When Molly's former flame, Alexander Abel, comes to town, Jake insists on inviting him as a dinner guest, and tries to impress the department store owner by hiring a maid and boasting that he is sending his son to college and Rosalie to summer camp. The Goldbergs are surprised when Alexander introduces his twenty-three-year old fiancée Debby, but nevertheless welcome her warmly and invite her to stay with them while she shops for her trousseau. In order to further impress Alexander, Jake hires additional seamstresses to work at his factory for a day, even though his partner, Mendell, insists that they cannot afford it. When Alexander announces that he is opening a series of chain stores and wants to purchase clothing from Jake and Mendell, both men nervously take out loans and sell their life insurance policies to lease a larger factory. Debby, meanwhile, has unintentionally fallen in love with Ted Gordon, who teaches Molly's music appreciation class. As Molly believes that Debby is not right for Alexander, she encourages a friendship between Alexander and her attractive, widowed neighbor, Mrs. Morris, whose son has grown fond of him. Although Debby finally rejects Ted because of her commitment to Alexander, Ted shows up unexpectedly at a dinner where Molly's neighbor, Mrs. Van Nest, unwittingly gossips about Molly's plans and Debby's near infidelity. As a result, Alexander angrily breaks off his engagement, and ends his friendship with Molly. Jake then blames Molly for losing the chain store accounts and ruining his business, after Alexander decides to sell his business. Molly goes to see Alexander and, speaking from her heart, tells him that a marriage to Debby would be inappropriate, not because of her age, but because she is immature, as Alexander himself is immature. Alexander soon sees the wisdom of Molly's words and attends a Parent-Teacher Association dance in order to propose to Mrs. Morris. When Mrs. Morris accepts, Molly seeks to ward off Debby's guilty conscience by steering her into Ted's class, where she and Ted reunite. Meanwhile, Sammy, who at first refused to attend college, decides to go after all, and Alexander arranges for Jake to meet the new chain store owner. With the situation resolved, Molly convinces her worried husband that he has achieved the success he dreamed of by becoming a manufacturer, and reassures him that "we don't want to conquer the world, we only want to live in it."
N. Richard Nash
John F. Seitz
Gertrude Berg was the creator, writer and star of the radio series The Rise of the Goldbergs, which ran from November 20, 1929 through 1945. At the time this film was made, the show was being broadcast on the CBS network; however, it originated on NBC. Actor Eli Mintz recreated his role from the radio series for the film. Although Berg grew up in Harlem, her show was inspired by New York Jewish immigrants living on the Lower East Side. The radio show led to a 1948 Broadway play titled Molly and Me, and a television series entitled The Goldbergs, which ran from 1949-1954.
Paramount released the film for a test-run in November 1950 as The Goldbergs. According to contemporary reviews, the title was changed to Molly after public response to the film was not as favorable as hoped; it was then released in 1951. Variety noted that, "it was feared that the Jewish connotation of the title might hurt the chances of what otherwise was considered an entertaining picture, and the test shots apparently bore out the theory." Although the Hollywood Reporter review wrote that "at best the appeal [of the film] is a limited one that will appear almost esoteric to most audiences," many reviews, like the film itself, did not overtly refer to the "Goldbergs" as a Jewish family, and instead identified them merely as being from the Bronx. Other reviews, however, such as the Independent Film Journal, noted that "the dialects, English-Jewish idiomatic expressions and Jewish characteristics are presented without stooping to degrading stereotypes. The Goldbergs and their acquaintances are people to laugh with, not to laugh at." Time magazine commented that the film captured the "authentic flavors of Jewish family life in The Bronx," while the Los Angeles Times reviewer noted that "non-Jews should find it as recognizably human as the Gaelic characteristics of, say, Going My Way."