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Positive portrayal of Poles in world`s cinema and TV


pawian 155 | 8,471
29 Mar 2019  #1
In another thread some posters express their concern about an unfair and unfavourable presentation of Poles in Hollywood productions. Yes, nasty propagandists can be found everywhere, but let`s remember Hollywood isn`t the only film maker in the world.

Let`s talk about a positive portrayal of Poles, both native and Am, Br or wherever, in the world`s cinema and TV.

The title of the thread is clear, I hope. In case a Polish character`s film depiction is a bit ambiguous, you can mention it as well so that we can discuss it and decide.

I mentioned Hollywood, so let`s look at US backyard first. Something light for a start. I remember watching a series about an Am Polish private detective called Banac(z)ek. The series was popular in Poland in 1970s. The guy is very likeable, indeed, mainly because of his relaxed attitude, intelligence, courtesy and unusual sense of humor. He often resorts to quoting Polish proverbs, which are bogus, of course, but still funny.

E.g,
"Though the hippopotamus has no sting, the wise man would prefer to be sat upon by the bee."
"A truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn."
"Just because the cat has her kittens in the oven doesn't make them biscuits."
"You can read all the books in the library my son, but the cheese will still stink after four days."
"No matter how warm the smile on the face of the Sun, the cat still has her kittens under the porch."


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banacek

Another "positive Polish" crime series was called Kaz, also aired on Polish TV, but later. The plot is a bit unorthodox because Kazińsky is a Polish American ex-criminal who becomes a barrister after doing his time in prison where he studies law. I watched a few episodes because the actor, Ron Leibman, reminded me of a certain known Polish comedian and stand up artist. .

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaz_(TV_series)

Did you watch these series?
Shitonya Brits
29 Mar 2019  #2
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banacek

Key points:

- it never generated strong ratings;

- it lasted only two seasons;

- the Polish American Congress gave the series an award for portraying Polish Americans in a good manner.


NB: The need for an organization to do this only proves how commonplace it was for Hollywood to use "unfair and unfavourable" characterisations of Poland, Poles and Polonia.

Indeed, Hollywood's raging hostility against Poland, Poles and Polonia continued unabated as recently as last year:

- in 2018, Banacek was the subject of an episode-length parody in The Simpsons

Kazińsky is a Polish American ex-criminal who becomes a barrister after doing his time in prison where he studies law.

Are you sure the character was "Polish American"?

Using "y" instead of "i" for the adjectival ending was prevalent among Jews and Russians rather than Polonia and never Poles.

But, of course, Hollywood needs a Polish character that in their biased heads must always be the complete opposite of the Ivy League educated Jewish lawyers who never missed temple while growing up.

Once again, more negative portrayals of Poland, Poles, and Polonia.

Hollywood's message: "Make sure you run a criminal background check on that Polish lawyer before you even think of hiring him!"

And who are Kazinsky's clients? Naturally, not much different than himself: former fellow inmates; murderers; racketeers; mistresses, prostitutes.

Certainly not the high net worth clients Jewish lawyers would attract.

Hey, any episodes where "Kaz" turned the life around of a delinquent Jew with a rap sheet longer than the Wailing Wall?

Where he helped smash and lock-up a rabbinic organ trafficking ring? (True crime story by the way too!)

Nope. Of course not.

That's not Hollywood's modus operandi when it comes to their war on Poland, Poles and Polonia.
OP pawian 155 | 8,471
29 Mar 2019  #3
I hope you realise that if the original series became an object of parody after 40 years, then the ratings, which weren`t too high in 1970s, must have risen with time. If they hadn`t, the Simpsons makers wouldn`t have bothered with Banacek.

Using "y" instead of "i" for the adjectival ending was prevalent among Jews and Russians rather than Polonia and never Poles.

Do you suggest that the choice of the actor of the Jewish origin for the role of Kaz wasn`t accidental?
Shitonya Brits
29 Mar 2019  #4
Hollywood is always recycling its rubbish.

The insiders know what is going on and their work is never finished.

There are always newer audience members (and better yet paying ones too) to indoctrinate with their mocking anti-Polish propaganda.

This subversive anti-Polish conditioning helps in the long run when the media starts its inevitable blitzkrieg against Poland with false accusations of culpability for the Holocaust.

Which side will the gullible public support?

Over-achieving Jews with a victim narrative to tell about their long dead ancestors?

Or a "Pollack" (remember, your favourite and overused term of abuse) from a country which over-archiving Jews are pointing fingers of blame at?

Do you suggest that the choice of the actor of the Jewish origin for the role of Kaz wasn`t accidental?

Then he should be described correctly as "Jewish American" and not "Polish American".
Rich Mazur 4 | 2,358
29 Mar 2019  #5
What's Jewish origin? Why would a man's religion be a factor?
Am I of the Catholic origin? In what context could I say that I am of the Catholic origin and still make sense?
Bagel
30 Mar 2019  #6
Catholic means universal... its similar to Asians back in the day
Spike31 2 | 860
30 Mar 2019  #7
Walt Kowalski played by Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" [2008]

Walt is a Polish American war veteran from Korea living in Detroit. He is a tough and honest guy, completely immune to political correctness.

imdb.com/title/tt1205489/
Bagel
30 Mar 2019  #8
poles by far the cutest and sexiest peeps alive
OP pawian 155 | 8,471
30 Mar 2019  #9
Walt is a Polish American war veteran from Korea living in Detroit.

I watched extensive scenes from the film but didn`t grasp his background. Yes, positive, although he doesn`t appear so amiable initially as he is a hopelessly racist conservative. Later he develops into a better guy, indeed. :) But I am afraid some viewers might frown at the way his suicidal tendency is presented in the film, as it might remind one of that black propaganda about Polish propensity to some strange behaviour, you know, Poles with sabers charging tanks etc.

Later he develops into a better guy, indeed. :)

That`s what audiences love - the transformation of a bad guy into a decent one. A trick as old as the hills, first used in literature, then in films
Lyzko 20 | 6,034
30 Mar 2019  #10
"Northside 777" (1947) portrayed a Polish-American family from the Chicago meat-packing district (of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" fame) in trouble with the law.
Apart from that, can't think of too many specifically Polish characters in Hollywood movies, except for that TV series in the '70's with George Peppard as a Polish-American detective:-)
OP pawian 155 | 8,471
30 Mar 2019  #11
his suicidal tendency

I remember two other films where Polish heroes commit suicide. E.g., did you watch the Vanishing Point?

Spike, when you mentioned Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino, I first thought you were talking about Kowalski from The Vanishing Point.

First I read a review published in a communist film magazine,and a few years later watched the film. The review was very critical, the Polish protagonist`s behaviour was described as aimless, senseless etc. Eventually, the author accused the film makers of anti Polishness.

Kowalski is a Vietnam War veteran, former race car driver, also a former police officer who got unfairly fired. After a long race across a few states, having avoided the police`s futile attempts to stop him, he decides to finish the racing and his life, too, on the last roadblock .

"and as Kowalski approaches at high speed, he smiles as he crashes into the bulldozers in a fiery explosion. As firemen work to put out the flames, the crowd slowly disperses."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanishing_Point_(1971_film)

The character is a bit ambiguous, indeed. I probably understand why the communist critic didn`t like the film - it was one giant allusion to human struggle to pursue and retain your personal freedom at any cost, even your life`s. Barry Newman, the actor who played the role of Kowalsky, explained:

"To Kowalski, it was still a hole to escape through. It symbolized that no matter how far they push or chase you, no one can truly take away your freedom and there is always an escape. Kowalski drives to drive, with no real purpose for doing what he's doing. He decides to give his life its definition and meaning, with complete freedom over his actions."
Shitonya Brits
30 Mar 2019  #12
"Northside 777" (1947) portrayed a Polish-American family from the Chicago meat-packing district

Yep. There it is again.

The racist Polonophobic Hollywood trope: Polish, blue collar, criminal.
Lyzko 20 | 6,034
30 Mar 2019  #13
Ahemmm. guess y'all missed "Little Caeser", "The Enforcer", "I was a Prisoner on a Chain Gang", "Key Largo" etc..... etc.... in which Italians aka Italian-Americans were CONSTANTLY being portrayed as criminals, Mafiosi, gangsters or assorted low-life thugs, right on up through De Niro's portrayal of Al Capone in "The Untouchables" (1985), thereinafter "Good Fellas", not to mention "Raging Bull" ad infinitum "Stereotyped" portrayals in Hollywood of Polish characters pale by comparison. "Black Legions (1938??) with Humphrey Bogart as a recently displaced factory worker comes to mind, as soon as the new guy who replaces him and becomes foreman, named Dabrowski, is mentioned.

S. B.
Get a life and smarten up, ok?!! There's sooooo much you don't know.
:-)
Spike31 2 | 860
2 Apr 2019  #14
I almost forgot this old classic "To Be or Not to Be" [1942]

80 year old film and still funnier than most contemporary "comedies"

It's even available on youtube

youtube.com/watch?v=T3eG37VDvfc
jon357 63 | 14,076
2 Apr 2019  #15
Does anyone remember "A very Polish practice", the sequel series to "A very peculiar practice"? A great sitcom back in the 80s as PL was opening up, a co-production with Polish State Television and one that gave people in the U.K. a glimpse of modern Poland.

I almost forgot this old classic "To Be or Not to Be"

A classic! I nearly p*ssed myself laughing last year when I went to a theatre that was actually doing 'excerpts from Shakespeare'!!!
Lyzko 20 | 6,034
2 Apr 2019  #16
@Spike31,

You just won my heart, from one classics buff to another:-)

What's more, Jack Benny nee Benny Kubelski, in real life a Jew (albeit as all-American W.A.S.P.-assimilated as one could get), brilliantly manoevers playing a rank-and-file gentile Pole playing a Nazi higher-up, beside Sig Rumann's usual Teutonic bungler! Carole Lombard's captivating as well and it's one of my favorite "comedies" of all time.
OP pawian 155 | 8,471
6 Apr 2019  #17
I remember two other films where Polish heroes commit suicide. E.g., did you watch the Vanishing Point?

The other one is Sophie`s Choice, with Meryl Streep who won an Oscar for her role.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie%27s_Choice_(film)

The title choice is so traumatic

She reveals to him that, upon arrival at Auschwitz, she was forced to choose which one of her two children would be gassed and which would proceed to the labor camp. To avoid having both children killed, she chose her son, Jan, to be sent to the children's camp, and her daughter, Eva, to be sent to her death.

that eventually Sophie commits a suicide.
Lyzko 20 | 6,034
7 Apr 2019  #18
Her Polish pronunciation was nothing short of astounding. Boy can that lady do accents!


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