Offensive portrayal of the Strauses


May 12, 2009
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Anyone else finds it annoying that this otherwise excellent film portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Straus so Semitic, with big noses and thick Yiddish accents? I was half-expecting them to break out into "Sunrise, Sunset." So unnecessary. They were affluent New Yorkers who happened to be Jewish, why the movie had to hit us over the head with their ethnic/religious background is beyond me.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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About the only offensive part of the portrayal was that they changed her name from Ida to Rachel.

Isidor Straus was born in Germany. Presumably, he spoke Yiddish and had a German-Jewish accent. He was a late comer to New York, his first American home being Talboton, Georgia. He arrived there around age 9, and remained their long enough to attempt service in the Confederate Army...so, presumably, he had a German-Jewish accent with overtones of the American South. Try portraying THAT realistically in a film.

Rosalie Ida Straus was born in Worms, Germany. It is safe to assume that while in Germany she also spoke Yiddish and developed a German-Jewish accent.

>who happened to be Jewish

Only after they died. Prior to that, they were Jews who happened to be affluent New Yorkers. Read the letter of rejection from a private school that Isidor received for a taste of what people thought of them while they still had pulses.

The Titanic's own Mrs. Cassebeer left an account in which she describes bitching about a "Jew" she met on board, only to discover that the voyage friend to whom she was bitching was also Jewish.

So, the portrayal is a good one, because no matter how prosperous, well dressed, politically connected the Strauses were, THAT is what the majority of their fellow passengers would have been seeing when they looked at them. Portraying them as WASPY would be MORE offensive.
 
May 3, 2005
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As far as offensive portrayals are concerned, IMHO the worst is the portrayal of Mrs. J.J. Brown as some sort of a country hick.(She who was never known as Molly until the musical of that name). From what I have read she was fairly well advanced in her manner of speech by the time of the Titanic disaster, had toured Europe and was fluent in several languages as well as proper English.

>>No one's crying. Just observing.<<

I'm just observing, too.
 
May 3, 2005
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>>Don't forget Ismay as well. With one exception, he's always portrayed as a 2D villain.<<

And don't forget the "J. BRUTE Ismay" headline.
 
May 27, 2007
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>>Anyone else find it annoying that this otherwise excellent film portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Straus so Semitic, with big noses and thick Yiddish accents?<<

They did go a little overboard on the accents. I think the English Filmmakers could of done some more research on the American accents in general and they also could of done some research on Mrs Straus's first name. Shoot if they wanted to change her name they could of called her Rosalie, her middle name.

I always thought the reason they changed her name was perhaps they thought there were too many I's what with Mr Strauss's first name being Isidore but I believe he was called Mr Straus through out ANTR so now I think it was just sloppy research.

Now making my own observation that earlier observation could of been made via the PM service. I'm just saying that to one person an observation is to another nit picking. Just my 2 cents worth.
 
Apr 30, 2018
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Anyone else finds it annoying that this otherwise excellent film portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Straus so Semitic, with big noses and thick Yiddish accents? I was half-expecting them to break out into "Sunrise, Sunset." So unnecessary. They were affluent New Yorkers who happened to be Jewish, why the movie had to hit us over the head with their ethnic/religious background is beyond me.
The characters are played by actors who were distinguished figures in the world of Yiddish theatre - Meier Tzelnicker and Helen Misener. I think if they had found the portrayal offensive they would have been able to speak up for themselves and get a sympathetic hearing from Roy Baker and Bill MacQuitty.

I have always found it odd that in the 1953 "Titanic" the Strausses go down singing a Christian hymn. Surely this denies their Jewish heritage and faith and is potentially offensive.
 
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