Ben Stiller and Keeping the Faith

The year 2000 was a busy one for actor Ben Stiller.  Starring first in Keeping the Faith, which is the focus of today’s analysis, Stiller went on to take the lead role in Meet the Parents, which I recently reviewed here.  As we saw in my review, Meet the Parents, while ostensibly a comedy, it’s also infused with hostility on both sides, as the lone Jew Greg Focker (Stiller) enters into the domain of gentiles, a situation intrinsic to diaspora Jewry. It is, literally, Focker’s “ordeal of civility.”

Keeping the Faith is an entirely different beast. In this film the contrast between the White goy world and the Jewish world could not be starker, for two of the three main characters are a blond Catholic priest and a rabbi. (Notice that in flashbacks to their childhood, the Catholic boy with blond hair always wears light clothing; in contrast, the young Jewish boy wears dark clothes.) Further, the shiksa lust is front and center, as the rabbi dates (and will likely marry) a very, very goyish woman. What makes this film absolutely fascinating, however, is that these contrasts and conflicts are treated openly, compassionately, intelligently and — gasp — honestly. Certainly, see this film, since Hollywood rarely offers such a balanced and insightful look at how Jews interact with and affect their host culture — it even shows us what many Jews think about us, including their negative thoughts.

Here is the cast: Ben Stiller stars as Rabbi Jacob “Jake” Schram. Edward Norton is Father Brian Finn. And Jenna Elfman is Anna Reilly. As children, they went to school together in New York City, but Anna moves to California with her family and loses touch with her two male friends. Later, she returns to New York on business and resumes contact with these two men, who are now men of the cloth.

Before addressing the film, however, I simply must discuss the identity of the actor and director of Keeping the Faith, Edward Norton. In this film, he plays, quite frankly, a mildly effeminate man, though that’s neither here nor there, since he’s a priest.

What absolutely blew me away when I first watched the film, however, was the fact that an actor with an identical name had two years earlier appeared as a vicious neo-Nazi in a movie called American History X. The contrast between the two characters is so profound that time and again I returned to the Internet to find out if they could actually be two different people. They are not; both are played by the same Edward Norton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clearly, we need to know a little more about this amazing actor.

Norton grew up in the planned community of Columbia, MD, built by none other than his maternal grandfather, the famed developer James Rouse. He was raised Episcopalian and attended Yale, where he was a competitive rower. He dated the Mexican Salma Hayek Jiménez (whose father is descended from Lebanese immigrants) for a few years but later married Canadian film producer Shauna Robertson. His father, also Edward, served in Vietnam as a Marine lieutenant and later became a lawyer working on environmental issues, a cause his son has also adopted.

In American History X (1998) Norton plays Derek Vinyard, a powerful and charismatic skinhead who goes to jail for killing two vibrant Black youths who wanted to borrow his car one night. This murder scene stands out as one of the most violent and upsetting scenes I’ve ever witnessed on screen. Be warned. As much revulsion as we might feel, however, we also have conflicting emotions as well, for Vinyard did have some justification for his actions. Further, why in the world does the director glorify this neo-Nazi? In fact, in this profoundly moving scene, the director turns to slow motion and clearly presents Vinyard as a Christ figure. Why?

This is a fantastic film, for it provides explicit rationales for young White males standing up and fighting against their ongoing dispossession. Talented writer Spencer Quinn catches this dichotomy in his discussion of the film, Unintentionally Great: A Review of American History X, where he writes:

The overall problem with American History X, and one reason why it is so interesting, is that there is a noticeable break between what screenwriter David McKenna and director Tony Kaye wanted to accomplish, and what they really did accomplish. Depending on how one views the film, one can come away from American History X with completely different impressions concerning race, racism, and race realism. I get the feeling that this was not what McKenna and Kaye had intended.

In any case, if you’ve seen Edward Norton’s mesmerizing performance here, you’ll be astounded that he becomes the wimpy but friendly priest in Keeping the Faith. Truly the mark of a great actor.

The film opens with a cliché that skirts PC regulations: an Irish priest who drinks too much. We see Fr. Finn staggering down a dark Manhattan street, bottle in hand. As he weaves from side to side, the opening credits appear, showing how prominent Jews typically are in film. Regarding the first three contributors to the film, we read “Casting by Avy Kaufman, Music by Elmer Bernstein, Costume Designer Michael Kaplan,” and soon see that all three executive producers are Jewish. Next, we read that Norton joins two Jews, Hawk Koch and Stuart Blumberg, as producers. (Blumberg also wrote the script.)

Fr. Finn then stops at an Irish bar for a nightcap, but the owner, Paulie Chopra, is a Sikh Catholic Muslim with Jewish in-laws. A major theme of the movie is the idea that “we live in a world where boundaries are blurring and bleeding into each other in ways that challenge us.” And much to my surprise, the film, while certainly comical at times, addresses these issues seriously, including with respect to Jews. For once we are not subjected to anti-White, pro-Jewish propaganda.

Keeping the Faith relies on jokes swirling around ethnic stereotypes, including those about Jews, so of course the older women in the film work diligently to set up the eligible young rabbi with “a nice Jewish girl.” This includes a successful young reporter, but the film also shows us a vapid Jewish woman who is so shallow that she puts false book covers over her aerobic exercise videos. Assuming the domineering Jewish woman persona, she drags Rabbi Shram to her apartment and demands that he punch her in the stomach, thus proving her dedication to her training routine. The scene is hilarious.

We discover, however, that Jake may not end up with that nice Jewish girl because the plot of this movie quickly begins to revolve around belated longing for Anna, the classmate who moved away. Returning to New York on business, priest and rabbi are astonished to find that Anna has blossomed into a high-powered businesswoman, not to mention a stunningly attractive young lady.  As a priest, Fr. Finn is constrained from expressing his love for Anna, though in one scene he manages to do just that. Rabbi Jake Schram, on the other hand, is free to date as he sees fit.  Unfortunately, his “fit” does not always match the expectations of his mother or congregation. This perennial theme of shiksa love and the tensions it introduces into the Jewish community is the primary subplot of the movie.  For instance, Rabbi Jake’s investment banker brother married a Catholic girl, and his mother responds by not speaking to him for over two years. She clearly represents the Jewish desire for continuity and exclusion; intermarriage is seen as an act of assimilation that spells a kind of death for the Jewish people.

Interspersed throughout the film are comic scenes in Rabbi Schram’s synagogue. For instance, to liven up the sermon, he invites a troupe of black gospel singers to perform, which wins him wild support from some congregants but censure from others. (Watch here.) Another time, he faints at the sight of a circumcision, where a mohel deftly cuts the foreskin of an infant boy.

As the story develops, it looks like Jake’s mother may be facing another case of a son pairing up with a Christian woman. Jake and Anna have fallen in love and are now having a relationship, which brings on the predictable problems. At a movie theater, for example, Jake runs into a group of his congregants. When they meet his tall blonde companion, they are none too pleased at his choice. The film, however, clearly criticizes this attitude as discriminatory. Keeping the Faith is all about pluralism and multiculturalism as ideal values.

Jake himself struggles with these values.  As a man who has devoted his life to the particularism of his own people, he still believes that as an individual he is entitled to “get what he wants.” Whether this includes a non-Jewish woman, though, is hard to resolve. For a while, Jake decides that loyalty to the Jewish God and the Jewish people takes precedence over his own romantic desires. “The fact that you’re not Jewish,” he tells Anna, “is a real problem for me.” Thus, he ends their relationship, which the film handles with subtlety. (Watch here.)

On top of this, Anna confesses to Fr. Finn that she and Jake had been carrying on a secret affair for months, and this precipitates a rift between the two men, handled comically as a drunken Fr. Finn barges into Jake’s synagogue and reveals the love triangle (sort of) that has emerged. All the while, congregants gather around the doors to hear the juicy details. Here is the scene.

Soon after, Jake confesses to his congregation that he had been dating a non-Jew. This Yom Kippur sermon scene is rare, for it openly challenges the age-old Jewish hatred of mixing outside the Tribe. Have a look here.

In the climax to the movie, Brian and Jake reconcile, but Anna is about to leave New York without reconciling with Jake. Brian, however, is not content to let these two friends squander a chance of a lifetime, so he encourages his friend to hurry to Anna’s office to seek forgiveness, setting up one of the funniest scenes in the movie, as Stiller uses his small stature to great effect when trying to outrun a burly but agile African American security guard in the lobby of Anna’s building.

Defeated, he comes up with the idea of going to the building across the street, where he is then able to communicate with Anna, first by holding up a handwritten sign, then by telephone, which is on speaker phone so the guests at Anna’s farewell party may all share in the drama. A tearful reconciliation is made and Jake and Anna are again a couple. We also learn that Anna had been taken conversion lessons from another rabbi in order to be a better fit for Jake. The film closes with this suggestion that she will convert and marry Jake.

I suppose if a movie about the Jewish man getting the shiksa has to be made, this is the best, most serious treatment we’ll get, although intermarriage between high-mate-value Whites and Jews should really be as problematic among Whites as it is among Jews and for all the same reasons. In Keeping the Faith, there is no denigration of gentile women at all. Better, the soft barbs that we do see are launched equally at the men, one Catholic and one Jewish. At no point does the movie descend into anti-White bigotry, which is something to be thankful for, given the less respectful Hollywood movies we all know about.

Still, I think it fitting to close with a consideration about what we have seen — a Jewish man getting the very European, very non-Jewish woman. As anyone can see, Jenna Elfman is the very epitome of White female beauty. Tall and slender, this blonde-haired beauty sports brilliant blue eyes.

I think a little background about this woman is in order.

Born in Los Angeles, Elfman was originally Jennifer Mary Butala. The family name is unusual because her father has Croatian ancestry. She was raised as a Catholic. Her married, name — Elfman — comes from her husband, Bodhi Pine Elfman, who grew up in Hollywood as the son of Jewish actor/director Richard Elfman and Rhonda Joy Saboff. Bodhi is also the nephew of musician and film composer Danny Elfman. While a racial Jew, Bodhi is a practicing Scientologist, and his wife Jenna became one, too.

Jenna Elfman gained fame as the free-spirited yoga instructor/dog walker Dharma Finkelstein in the sitcom Dharma & Greg. Her husband is a straight-laced lawyer named Greg Montgomery, and their conflicting personalities provide the comic energy for the show.

I’ve never seen the show, but a Wiki search shows that in the sitcom, Jewish actor Alan Rachins plays Myron Lawrence “Larry” Finkelstein, Dharma’s “hippie” father. If a casting crew thinks that Jenna Elfman can pass as the Jewish daughter of Larry Finkelstein, well, I guess anybody can. Or maybe it’s an inside joke. In any case, there seem to be parallels between Dharma and Greg and Meet the Parents (especially the sequel with Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand) in that the clash of Gentile and Jewish worlds is turned into comedy.

In closing, I might remind readers that most of the artistic creativity of Keeping the Faith comes from Jews. Paired with the fact that the story is openly about Jews and Gentiles together, we have no need to explain how the ideas for the film came about. It’s just not a mystery.

17 replies
  1. Joe Kleinschmitt
    Joe Kleinschmitt says:

    The reviewer seems to have gotten into this movie a bit too much. I myself would never go to see a movie that promotes love relationships between Jews and Whites. Just hearing the name Ben Stiller would make me avoid any movie that he is in. His acting career includes such gems as “Deuce Bigelow American Gigolo” which I walked out of after 15 minutes and the bathroom humor extravaganza “Something about Mary”.

    • Tarrasik
      Tarrasik says:

      I agree. Seeing a Jewish man with a white woman is worse than seeing a Black man with a white woman.

  2. WhiteRace IQ
    WhiteRace IQ says:

    The film is about a Jew breeding Whites out of existence, by breeding with a White woman. Not worth more than three sentences. Trash.

  3. Jack Sen
    Jack Sen says:

    Very interesting article and I will definitely check out this film. I’d advise people to watch ‘An Education’ which touches on how Jews impacted London. Although it received a fair amount of critical acclaim, and while watching the film you will immediately sense this is going to be pro-Jewish and anti-Gentile flick, it takes a marvellously unexpected turn which makes it in my opinion one of the finer films of its generation. The plot twist is also why it was deemed anti-Semitic by some…
    Would like to add that Jemma Elfman is your typical Hollywood good goy. She married a Jewish industry man, took his name and I believe also converted. I’ve also heard she herself is in fact part Jewish.
    Another Scarlett Johannson or James Franco – Gentile on the outside….

  4. Mitchell
    Mitchell says:

    Typical cuckoldry… the handsome white man chooses a life inceldom (priesthood), and plays matchmaker for the non-white who wants to bed down the beautiful Aryan woman. It seems like the only available roles for blonde actors is as wingmen for shiksa loving Jew men

  5. Karen T
    Karen T says:

    Always the Jews, 0.2 percent of the world’s population but everything in the West must always revolve around them whether it’s their shitty little country in the desert, their “achievements,” their victimhood, their books and movies. The only good movies, good only to those who haven’t yet been completely Judaized, and in the past few decades they’ve been few, have little Jewish involvement either in production or execution – Dean Spanley, Withnail & I, Das Boot (the long version), Going Down The Road, Nashville, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Dead Man, The Bothersome Man, The Others, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Days of Darkness (Deny Arcand), and anything by Terrence Malick . Can anyone begin to imagine the heights of creativity we could reach without this dark force being in control?

    • Lou
      Lou says:

      Since soooo many I meet in big cities are jews or half jews
      I wonder or have wondered how many of them are there?
      10 million?
      50 million?

      If there are 10 million IN USA and USAs Whites are now a minority [or White Chrisitans are??] they are 1/18th of ‘White’ population. 5%?

      Any statisticians and demographers who can cut thru the gefilte fish?

      • Jeremy S.
        Jeremy S. says:

        Bobby Fischer told an interviewer there 20 to 30 million Jews in the US, but I don’t know how he arrived at that figure. He was way ahed of his time on the JQ, though. Any intelligent person would assume the 6/7 million number for the US is a lowball figure.

    • Charles Frey
      Charles Frey says:

      Love your reminder of ” that shitty little country “, uttered verbatim by the French Ambassador to London, into the ears of Obama, on an occasion in London: captured by a mistakenly left open microphone.

      I recall, that Obama’s face did not indicate disagreement.

  6. Annie
    Annie says:

    I think this movie answers to the high rate of intermarriage >50% by men to the shiksa in U.S. has forced
    Jewish administrative bodies since the ’70s to come out with varying degrees of acceptance so the parents won’t be alienated from Jewry and will be more inclined to raise their kids Jewish.

    • Lou
      Lou says:

      Indeed, the out marriage by Jewish men.
      I heard of a goy gal who has jewish children!
      How could this be so?
      The kids get the star treatment. Free airfare to Israel.
      They are not jewish.

    • Charles Frey
      Charles Frey says:

      01 There exists a Jewish Foundation in the US to very strongly oppose intermarriage.

      02 I recently read a fascinating and very well-sourced, detailed German-Jewish insider report on their situation during the Reich.

      A specific passage of the racial Nuremberg Laws was mentioned, which forbade Jews to wed gentiles, and that if they did so outside of Germany, it would be considered null and void in the Reich. Bad, bad Germans.

      03 Apparently less bad: the same holds in present day Israel.

      04 The report’s own internal census spoke of 517,000 Jews living in the Reich, of whom an enormous proportion emigrated, and lists the countries by preference. Palestine was not a sought-after destination.

      05 I was also astonished by their exceedingly tightly meshed organization, in which Rabbis took the lead in their closely delineated bailiwicks, leaving no functional or geographic area uncovered. Which begs the question whether the chicken came before the egg.

  7. Walter Lewkowski
    Walter Lewkowski says:

    Father Finn is a horrible priest.
    You say, “Anna confesses (not confides) to Fr. Finn that she and Jake had been carrying on a secret affair for months…”
    Then you say that, “a drunken Fr. Finn barges into Jake’s synagogue and reveals the love triangle…”
    First a priest must not in any way reveal the sins disclosed in confession.
    Second a priest should not be a drunk or get drunk.
    From your review we have a film about a contemptible, effeminate, Catholic priest up against a good guy Jew.
    Father Finn is an effeminate man and thus a rotten priest.
    According to Aquinas and Catholic theology effeminacy is being soft.
    An effeminate man has no will to control his appetites; he seeks to feed his appetites for pleasure.
    The effeminate man is not resolute; his effeminacy disorder keeps him from achieving hard things that are good and great things.
    We’ve come a long way from Father O’Malley in Going My Way (1944) and Father Barry in On the Waterfront (1954).

  8. steven clark
    steven clark says:

    To be honest, this is a film I’ll pass. The Jewish/ Catholic story doesn’t really tickle me, and I think the supposed ‘conflict’ is the usual false Hollywood dialogue. I’m not a great Stiller fan, either. Just that face.
    Here’s a better movie which goes along with what Connelly is trying to get at with fewer words. An Education (2009) is a British film with Carey Mulligan’s debut. She plays Jenny, a 16 year old girl who drops out of school and hooks up with David Goldman, an older man who has a great interest over her. Her parents object, but David’s quite a charmer. It turns out David is Jewish. also,
    his charm has a dark side, as he engages in a lot of shady deals. He passes himself off as a friend of celebrities. He goes into the country, talks people out of antiques for a cheap price, then resales them at exorbitant prices. David rents flats to blacks, sends them into white neighborhoods, and when the whites move out, David gets more blacks in, but raises rents so he makes a killing. I thought this was a very true and bold example how Jews worm their way into things, and that’s how they flood in non-whites…at a profit. It takes a lot of guts for a film to show this. David isn’t evil. He’s charming, but cold and mixed-up, and Jenny’s parents are very concerned, but David schmoozes them…Jews are masters at that, nicht wahr? Then Jenny finds out…but I won’t spoil it. The film shows a young girl making choices, and eventually, her parents help her to make a moral choice to return to school or lead a pointless life as some guy’s appendage. Really, ALL of you should see this film. Carey is a good actress, and Skarsgaard, who plays David, captures the ambiguity of an empty, degenerate man quite well.
    Connelly, if you want to praise a Catholic film, why not watch/review Ladybird? It has a lot of Catholic life and struggle in the story, and is more ‘real’ then the Hollywood fluff. It got nominated at the Oscars, and of course it lost, showing me how real it is. Please, anyone reading this: watch An Education.

  9. Lori
    Lori says:

    I found nothing funny about the punch me scene and I quit going to movies a long time ago based on their obsession with disease.

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