Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1955): Turning Point in Israeli Cinema

Hebrew Title: Giva 24 Eina Ona

More important historically than artistically, Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer represents a turning point in history of Israeli cinema: It the first film in Hebrew to enjoy commercial success abroad.

It also was the first Israeli-shot film to be shown at Cannes Film Festival, in 1955.

Directed by Thorold Dickinson, Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer is set during the 1948 Independence War, while the Arabs try to regain control of the Holy Land.

The four central characters are Irishman Edward Mulhare (James Finnegan), American Allan Goodman (Michael Wager), Palestinian (Arieh Lavi), and a Yemenite girl (Margalit Ovid).

The foursome holds tenuously onto the militarily crucial Hill 24, which overlooks the road to Jerusalem.

The narrative unfolds as a series flashbacks. which show why and how these disparate souls have come together for the risky undertaking. Through their personal stories, the broader socio-political context is presented, including the dilemmas faced by the new state of Israel.

Haya Harareet, who later co-starred with Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur, plays the underground worker who galvanizes Mulhare into joining the Israelis.

One of the strongest dramatic comes toward the end, depicting a confrontation between a wounded former Nazi (Azaria Rapapport), who relates his past (“we had no choice”) and an Israeli soldier, who refuses to kill him in cold blood.

It is noteworthy that each actor and actress speaks in his or her native language.

Running time: 101 minutes.

 

Cast

Edward Mulhare as James Finnegan

Michael Wager as Allan Goodman

Margalit Oved as Esther Hadassi

Arik Lavie as David Airam

Michael Shillo as Capt. Yehuda Berger

Haya Harareet as Miriam Miszrahi

Eric Greene as Agent Browning

Stanley Preston as Chief British Agent Lawson

Haim Eynav as Ya’acov, young soldier

Zalman Lebiush as The Rabbi

Azaria Rapaport as German Mercenary (Former Nazi)

Abraham Barzilai as U.N. Arab Official

Shoshana Damari as Miriam’s Druze Friend

Shoshana Duer as Hospital Matron

Shraga Friedman as Travel Agent

Leon Gilboa as U.N. French Official

David Hershkovitz as Street Vendor

Burton Most as U.N. American Official

David Ram as U.N. Israeli Official

Ruth Rappaport as Hospital Nurse

Mati Raz as Levin, the interpreter

Yossi Yadin as Israeli Commander At Jerusalem Wall

Arie Zeidmann as Itzik’l