The director who dared to suggest Jewish men don’t need rescuing by blond women

The late film-maker Joan Micklin Silver exploded the cliches of modern romances. If only others would do the same

The director Joan Micklin Silver, who died last week, was – to use the kind of cliche she abhorred – a pioneer. She was a female director at a time when studio executives were more than comfortable with being openly sexist, telling Silver: “Women directors are one more problem we don’t need.”

She made distinctly Jewish movies, as opposed to the kind of Jewish-lite movies that were – and are still – Hollywood’s more usual style. Her two greatest films, Hester Street (1975), about a Jewish immigrant couple (Steven Keats and Carol Kane) on the Lower East Side in the 1890s, and the peerless 1988 romcom Crossing Delancey, about a modern young woman (Amy Irving) who is reluctantly fixed up with a pickle seller (Peter Riegert), are to When Harry Met Sally what the Netflix series Shtisel is to Seinfeld: Jewish as opposed to merely Jew-ish.

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