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Overture to Glory (1940)

A jewish cantor is seduced by the allure of opera when introduced to it by two attractive young Poles.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Moyshe Oysher ...
Yoel Duvid Strashunsky
Florence Weiss ...
Chana Strashunsky, his wife
Maurice Krohner ...
Aaron, his father-in-law
John Mylong ...
Stanislaw Maniusko
Helen Beverly ...
Wanda Mirova
Baby Winkler ...
Peretz Strashunsky
Benjamin Fishbein ...
Nute, the stadtl shamez [sexton]
Lazar Freed ...
The Stadtl Rabbi
Jadwiga Godliewska, blond diva
Ivan Busatt ...
Director of the Opera
Leonard Elliott ...
Tilchinski, orchestra conductor
Max Willenz ...
The Warsaw Shamez [sexton]
The Costume Supervisor (as Herman Blass)
Omus Hirschbein ...
Peretz's Pal
Werner Bass ...
The Pianist


The cantor of the Vilna Synagogue, played by the great real-life cantor Moishe Oysher, leaves behind his prayers to perform in the Warsaw Opera. He struggles to balance the appeal of his newfound fame and notoriety with feelings of guilt and responsibility toward his family and community. Featuring perhaps the most convincing scenes of synagogue life in any fiction film, Overture to Glory begins during the morning service on Rosh Hashanah and ends at Kol Nidre, making the story a kind of redemptive journey during the days of awe. Written by National Center for Jewish Film

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Release Date:

11 February 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der vilner Shtot Khazn  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies and the American Dream (1998) See more »


Music by Stanislaw Moniuszko
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User Reviews

Small Budget, Fine film
21 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

What is most immediately apparent is that, though this was a shoestring production filmed in Astoria, the result is, in every way, an "A" film. It is rich pictorially, with a sense of full sets and backgrounds, and the lighting is particularly detailed and sensitive. The opening is a tour de force, a FIFTEEN MINUTE synagogue service highlighting the extraordinary voice of Oysher. The movements of the camera and Oysher are superbly choreographed, and the whole sequence is powerful, spellbinding. Oysher shows such dynamic presence in this sequence, that afterward, when we become aware of the humility and simplicity of his character, the contrast is startling. Of course, this contrast is intentional, and shows Oysher to be a good actor as well as an extraordinary singer. The story is so obviously the opposite of THE JAZZ SINGER that references to this film invariably comment on it. The Gentiles who lead the cantor away from the synagogue to sing secular music are not villains, but their worldliness and sophistication is very artfully presented. All three of the films that Oysher starred in are worth seeing, but the other two are somewhat more of a patchwork, their threadbare budgets more evident.

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