Robby Benson gives an outstanding performance in “The Chosen,” a tale of family and friendship set in Brooklyn in the 1940s, based on a novel by Chaim Potok.
Taking place right after WWII, before Israel was established and recognized as a state, the story centers on the complex friendship between two young Jews of differing factions. Benson’s Danny Saunders is Hassidic (religious), while Barry Miller’s Reuven Malter is a Zionist (secular). Though separated ideologically, the boys find a common bond through their love of stickball.
Gradually, Danny moves away from his father and the Hassidic world in order or become a law student at Columbia University.
Rod Steiger costars as Benson’s rabbi father, delivering a performance virtually devoid of the mannered stridency that has marred many of his later films. Maximillian Schell is equally good as Miller’s professor father.
Though not critically or commercially successful when initially released, “The Chosen” has become an annual Hannukah-season TV attraction in many cities.
Years after its release, the film served as the basis for a short-lived Broadway musical
Running time: 108.
Directed by Jeremy Kagan.
August 1, 1981
DVD: September 2, 2003