Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: October 4, 2009 Released by: Independent Film Circut

This informative, celebratory documentary will resonate most with those who don't use Blackberrys as its title indicates a bygone, yet golden era, for some anyway.

Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg conventionally brings one into the cutting-edge Jewish Gertrude Berg whose show "The Goldberg's" was one of the most popular shows on radio (there called "The Rise of the Goldbergs") and television from 1929 to 1955. The lady of wealth used her position a character known by most of the country as Molly Goldberg. In her heyday she was voted the second most popular woman behind Eleanor Roosevelt.

Director and writer Aviva Kempner blast from the past tunes into the radio show that initially aired from a 15 minute weekly show to five days a week as Molly would come into homes conversing with friends from her window from a Bronx working-class neighborhood. One felt the exasperation, wisdom and love of such a strong woman trying to nurture her family.

Some old footage and a plethura of interviewees allows for background into a chalutz Berg who amazingly wrote over 10,000 scripts and produced, performed and wrote for the radio series when life for her ethnic group was turning for the worse in Europe. It had the chutzpah to find a universality through family to cope with the harsh times of the Depression.

Historians of television and those who listened and watched Molly will like the less intense, 24/7 manner of the medium. The precursor to situational shows like the seminal "I Love Lucy" was affected by the Red Scare in show business (also the Communist witch-hunting rears its head in the cute biographical comedy/drama Julie & Julia). The blacklisting of Philip Loeb, the actor who played Molly's husband (and who later took his own life) and General Foods pulling out as a key advertiser led to its ultimate demise even with a failed attempt at another network.

This cinematic cup of instant coffee (Mrs. Berg's chemical engineer husband invented it) will be a tolerable wake-up call to where sitcoms have been and where they are now. It's nice to hear from the likes of Sara Chase, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Norman Lear (producer of "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons"). The atmosphere and voice projected by Berg, whose memorable character leaned into a courtyard, will be lost on some but never forgotten for someone who did so much for the industry and picked up the first Best Actress Emmy Award.

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