Cast & Crew
In Lubomil, a town in the Ukraine, in 1912, David and Arele Berdichevsky, a father and son, listen to a beautiful shepherd's song together. David, a kind-hearted man, then composes a tune from the shepherd's song. Because he devotes his time to composing songs, David cannot support his family, which is in disarray. Miriam, David's daughter, is betrothed to Yudke, the son of Shimen the tailor, a family friend; however, while Yudke is away studying engineering in Odessa, Miriam is courted by her dancing teacher, Solomon. Meyer, David's other son, has decided to leave his job in a pharmacy to go to Odessa and be a dentist. When he berates his father, who is depressed, for not working, Dobrish, David's wife, who supports the family through her work in a fabric shop, slaps him. David wanders through the town and overhears gossip about him. Feeling lost where he is, he decides, for his family's sake, to go to America and gets money for the trip from Shimen. At the Passover seder , the whole family cries over David's departure. Miriam secretly joins Solomon when he leaves town for Balta and sadly leaves a note for her mother. Ashamed of her daughter's action, Dobrish tells others that she sent Miriam to live with an aunt. Sometime later, Dobrish receives a letter from America with money and a steamship ticket, and the family and friends prepare Arele to leave to live in America with his father, as rumors grow that David has amassed a fortune. David, however, is now a pushcart salesman hawking ties and socks. As Arele's train pulls out, Dobrish asks him to write a letter when he arrives in America. Miriam returns, looking forlorn, and asks her mother's forgiveness, revealing reveals that Solomon has a wife and child. Dobrish relates that Yudke has returned and talks her daughter into marrying him. After the wedding, the couple goes to Odessa. World War I erupts, and Meyer leaves to fight. The town of Lubomil is destroyed, and Dobrish goes to a big city with Shimen and his wife Malka, where she has to stand in a bread line. When a former creditor, Hersh Leyb, who earlier harassed Dobrish, is unable to get bread, Dobrish gives him half of her loaf. After the war ends, a soldier visits Dobrish with a medal from Meyer and relates that he was killed in action, as she had dreamed, and that his dying word was "Mother." After the Versailles Treaty, Mr. Shein, the American director of HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, visits a Jewish displaced persons headquarters and, after deploring the formalities, witnesses an official rebuke Dobrish when she asks about her husband and son in America. Shein then writes his wife in America about David. Meanwhile, Shimen's brother in America sends tickets for him and his wife to come. Unfortunately, Shein learns that David has died and that Arele cannot be found. Dobrish faints at this news. Seeing that Dobrish cries at the thought of being alone now, Shimen refuses to go to America without her. Shein then offers to take Dobrish with him on the next boat. Dobrish cries in the hope of seeing her Arele again. In America, Arele, now the famous singer Irving Bird, and his wife go to see Shein because they are planning to travel to Europe to try to find his family. Dobrish sees them leave Shein's office, but doesn't recognize Arele. The next day, Dobrish attends Arele's concert for Jewish refugees and hears him sing the Hebrew song his father composed from the shepherd's tune. She cries and tries to approach him, but he doesn't recognize her and gets into a limousine with his wife. In a daze, Dobrish is hit by a car. Arele gets out of the limousine and holds her. In the hospital room, Arele recognizes her, and Dobrish sees scenes of him as a boy as she looks at his face. She says his name and they hug.
The English translation of the title of this film is A Letter to Mama. This was the fourth and last film made in Poland by Joseph Green, an American, who, beginning in 1936, produced Yiddish language films there. For more information on Green, please see the entry below for Yiddle with His Fiddle. New York Times called this "the last Yiddish movie made in Poland before the Nazi invasion put an end, at least temporarily, to such activities." Although this film is not listed in the book of copyright entries, the scenario by Mendel Osherowitz and Joseph Green was copyrighted as an unpublished dramatic work and registered in the name of Joseph Green on April 23, 1938, number D56550. According to Joseph Green's personal papers at NCJF, the film cost 302.040 zlotys to produce. In an oral history conducted by the Hebrew University Oral History Department, Joseph Green stated that the film was shot in parts of the Ukraine, ending up in Lemberg and that box office receipts were higher for this film than his first Polish film Yiddle with His Fiddle, which also was successful. This film was re-released in 1949 under the title The Eternal Song.