The National Center for Jewish Films adds to its invaluable collection of restored Yiddish films with Joseph Green & Jan Nowina-Przybylski's Der Purimshpiler, a 1937 musical comedy that will screen at the ICA next Thursday as part of Jewishfilm.2009.
Getsel (Jonas Turkow), a sad-sack wanderer, enters a humble Polish town in Galicia in search of work. The gruff, good-hearted local shoemaker offers him a home, but Getsel has his eye on Esther (Miriam Kressyn), the shoemaker's flighty daughter and an ear-shattering soprano. Esther, however, has taken a shine to a Jolson-like circus sharpie. Meanwhile, the shoemaker has inherited a fortune and wants to marry Esther off to a rich man's son.
The film celebrates show business as much as it does folk and religious tradition, highlighting the transformation of the shtetl's homely joys and woes into schmaltzy performances in Warsaw cabarets. But underlying the joie de vivre is melancholy and the knowledge that this "romantic world" was erased by Nazi barbarism.