Despite the fact that Gentlemans Agreement rarely receives more than a line or two of mention in scholarly accounts of postwar Jews, it is a text that ably demonstrates the power that popular novels wield in shaping cultural sensibilities.
Eight years prior to Protestant-Catholic-Jew, Laura Hobson pronounced America a "tri-faith" nation in her best-selling novel Gentlemans Agreement and reached a considerably wider audience.
Recounting Zanuck's history of social-problem films, beginning in the 1930s with The Public Enemy (1931), I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), and moving up to The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Custen's New York Times article establishes that Gentlemans Agreement was part of "Zanuck's master narrative of more than a thousand films.
To be sure, producing a film that dealt with anti-Semitism as explicitly as Gentlemans Agreement did was a feat for Hollywood in 1947, the year that the first two films about American anti-Semitism were produced: RKO's Crossfire and Twentieth Century Fox's Gentlemans Agreement.
Gentlemans Agreement told the story of a gentile reporter, Phil Green, who is assigned to write a magazine series about anti-Semitism in America.
Although the protagonist in Gentlemans Agreement was not a Jew, the novel displayed an unusual candidness in dealing with anti-Semitism.
24) For Tindall, as for other academic and highbrow reviewers, the problem with Gentlemans Agreement was that its form had become too integral to the culture; readers' embrace of the postwar problem novel had become instinctive.