Filmed in 1936, the Yiddish-language Children Must Laugh was also released as Road of Youth and Street of the Young. Veteran Polish documentary filmmaker Alexander Ford offers a quiet but compassionate peek inside the walls of the Vladimir Medem Sanitarium, where the children of impoverished Jewish families reside. Despite the omnipresence of anti-Semitism, the youthful charges (of which there'd been at least 75,000 by 1936) are treated for a variety of physical and emotional ailments, enabling them to re-enter the real world both healthy and mentally regenerated. Despite the film's optimism, Children Must Laugh can be a depressing exercise when the modern viewer reflects on the horrible fate that was in store for most of Poland's Jewish population during WWII. Unable to foresee the tragedies to come, critics in the late 1930s were delighted by the film, even suggesting that some of the younger "actors" might have profitable movie careers ahead of them!
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