“Crossing Delancey” is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Released in 1988, the film stars Amy Irving as Isabelle “Izzy” Grossman, a single Jewish woman living in New York City, and Peter Riegert as Sam Posner, a Lower East Side pickle salesman.
Izzy works at an old bookstore and loves rubbing elbows with New York’s intellectual elite. She’s also infatuated with Anton Maes (Jeroen Krabbé), a sophisticated but self-absorbed European author.
Meanwhile, her traditional Jewish grandmother, Bubbie (Reizl Bozyk), isn’t happy about her granddaughter’s single status and believes that Izzy should settle down with a nice Jewish man. Bubbie engages the services of a hilarious matchmaker (Sylvia Miles), who then sets up a meeting with Sam. Naturally, Izzy isn’t thrilled with the idea of a pickle vendor from the Lower East Side.
Delancey Street is a major thoroughfare in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, an area historically associated with immigrant communities, including Eastern European Jews. This was still true in 1988, and the title “Crossing Delancey” holds symbolic significance in the context of the film. The film was shot on location in New York City, and the authentic setting helped to create a vivid and genuine atmosphere. Izzy likes her sophisticated surroundings and wants no part of Sam’s world in these old neighborhoods below Delancey Street.
The film is directed by Joan Micklin Silver and based on a play by Susan Sandler, who also wrote the screenplay. The talented cast shines with Sandler’s screenplay. Irving and Riegert are perfectly cast in the lead roles. Irving looks stunning in her big 80s hairdo, and she effortlessly displays the range of emotions required for the role of Izzy. Meanwhile, Riegert nails the role of Sam. He’s a simple guy who is comfortable in his own skin and won’t be manipulated.
Reizl Bozyk is brilliant and hilarious as Bubbie, and Sylvia Miles is perfect as the obnoxious matchmaker. The lovely Faye Grant also makes a brief appearance as Izzy’s sexy friend Candyce.
Like many rom-coms, parts of the story can be predictable, but everything about this film seems real. The cultural context of the New York Jewish community helps to explain the motivations of the principal characters. It’s a smart script, perfectly executed. Check it out!
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