Top Five Israeli Movies of All Time

Top Israeli Films of All Time:

1. Sallah Shabbati (1964) – Directed by Ephraim Kishon, starring Topol. Notice the hillarious Mike Burstein in a cameo role. Arik Einstein is there too. This is the quintessential story of the young Israel set in the late 1950’s as Sephardic (Oriental) and Yemenite Jews were immigrating in waves due to changes in policy in the Arab countries. This man’s story, Sallah, is told to represent the light-hearted look at a heavy subject of the trials and tribulations of integration (or lack thereof) to an intrinsically Ashkenazic (European) society. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Not to be missed.


References: IMDB Movie Synopsis Wikipedia Listing

2. Givat Halfon (???? ????? – (1976 Directed by Assi Dayan, Starring Shayka Levi, Gavri Banai, and Yisrael Polikov (The stars of Hagashash Hahiver comedy troupe). This is probably the funniest movie ever made in Israel. Even 30 years later, lines from this film are used in everyday slang. “?? ?? ???? ???”. The plot and premise don’t really matter, other than to give devices for the Hagashash to have fun at the expense of everything. The scene where Shayka teaches the Egyptian Officer how to make good Turkish Coffee is truly inspired Israeli comedy at its finest. Watch also for the young Tuvya Tzapir as the zany Miluim Officer.

References: Wikipedia Listing Video Clip #1 Video Clip #2

3. Chagiga B’Snooker (????? ?????? (1975 – Starring Yehuda Barkan and Tuvya Tzapir. This film exposes the Israeli underside, the mob, as a bunch of nutsos in a madcap film. Yehuda Barkan gives his most hilarious and memorable performance as Snooker huksters try to outsmart the mob and all the craziness that ensues. Although admittedly cheesy humor, it is screened faithfully every year on Israeli TV usually around Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day).

References: Video Clip Wikipedia Listing

4. Ricochets (1986) (Shtei Etzbaot MiTzidon) ??? ?????? ??????
This anti-war story is told thru the eyes of a young recruit joining his unit in the Lebanon War (??”?). The movie was also well-received by international critics. The plot and action is simple, but the message is clear – war is bad.

References: Video Clip Wikipedia Listing

5. Hashoter Azulai “The Policeman” (1971) – Directed by Ephraim Kishon – Starring Shaike Ophir as Officer Avraham Azoulay. Ophir is policeman in Yafo. He is bumbling and naive, but with more pride and inner-knowing than others in this genre (such as Inspector Clouseau). The music and themes in this film are tragic and uplifting all at once. The final scene of this film, has become one of the most memorable in Israeli cinema. This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and won the Golden Globe in the same category.
References: Wikipedia Listing IMDB Listing Video Clip

Also See: Top 5 Modern Israeli Must-See Movies

1 thought on “Top Five Israeli Movies of All Time”

  1. James’s Journey to Jerusalem 2003

    Now available on home video, the Israeli film “James’ Journey to Jerusalem” is a scathing portrait of class relations in Zionist society in general and the plight of undocumented workers in particular. The latter group flocked to Israel after the Intafada cut off the supply of Palestinian workers. But James, a devout Zulu Christian, is not one of them. He has instead been sent by his village on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Rather than finding a holy city, he encounters something much more like Sodom and Gomorrah. Director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz sees Israelis as grubby, Mammon-worshipping exploiters who debase themselves and anybody who comes into contact with them, including the saintly James. The subtext of the film is that the Zionist dream is dead. James personifies the original spirit of those Jews who came to the holy land in search of religious salvation and personal identity, but the dead end of such an approach in the long run. Israeli society drags down everybody who enters it, including the Jews who were its original sanctifiers. Coming as it does from an Israeli director, this bleak vision begins to suggest why young Israeli soldiers were reluctant to die in the recent war in Lebanon. They simply did not want to be “fayirs”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *