Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (International Film Circuit/Docurama, NR)

The 2-disc DVD release includes a number of features that move it closer to “must-have” status for anyone interested in either Jewish life or popular culture in mid-20th-century America.

 
I’ve already reviewed Aviva Kempner’s documentary Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (http://www.playbackstl.com/movie-reviews/9011-yoo-hoo-mrs-goldberg-international-film-circuit-nr), so I won’t repeat myself on that score. Here’s the short version: it’s a good documentary about an extremely accomplished woman who should be better known. The film itself is limited by the director’s decision to not go very deeply into anything, and by its overuse of laudatory testimony from celebrities.
Those criticisms aside, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is very much worth seeing. The 2-disc DVD release includes a number of features that move it closer to “must-have” status for anyone interested in either Jewish life or popular culture in mid-20th-century America. The most beneficial new additions are a sampling of episodes from the television show The Goldbergs and one episode from the radio show. These are valuable because it’s much better to see and hear for yourself what all the fuss is about than to take someone else’s word for it.
The other additions vary in quality, but with two-plus hours of added material, most viewers with any interest in the subject will be able to find something useful. There’s a commentary track by the documentary’s director that’s not great, but occasionally proves enlightening. The real payoff comes with the supplemental materials on the 2nd disc. Besides the radio and TV episodes, there are clips of Gertrude Berg being interviewed by Edward R. Murrow on Person to Person, imitating Alfred Hitchcock on what appears to be the Steve Allen Show (the documentation could be better) and reciting a story called “Hanukah Bush” (during which she refers to Hanukah as “the Jewish version or variation of Christmas”—you have to take that in the spirit of the times) on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Of particular interest to historians will be the interview segments with cast members, family, friends and admirers. Their revelations range from the purely anecdotal (Philip Loeb once turned up naked at Zero Mostel’s house, having been told to “come as you are”) to the serious (how Eli Mintz came to America by working as a steward then jumping ship in New York, his struggles to get into the Hebrew Actors’ Union). In the more self-indulgent category are “Kempner Family Outtakes”—basically home movies, and Today I Vote For My Joey, a well-intentioned but rather tedious short film by Kempner about the 2000 presidential election in Florida.
Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg is distributed by Docurama and can be ordered from their web site http://www.docurama.com/featured-releases/yoo-hoo-mrs-goldberg/, or from the film’s web site http://www.mollygoldbergfilm.org/dvd.php. | Sarah Boslaugh

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