“If These Knishes Could Talk: The Story of the New York Accent” (Amazon)

Okay, granted it doesn’t take much to make me weepy these days, but this 1 hour documentary about my hometown kept me grabbing for my tissues. But not in a bad way. The NYT’s piece last week “How Does a New Yawka Tawk?” had a similar effect. If you loved the article then you will enjoy this unpolished but intimate documentary. Although it features several luminaries (e.g. Penny Marshall, Charles Rangel, James O’Brian) occasionally the film and sound quality are poor, but I forgive that because the topic is so dear to my heart. The interviews with everyday New Yawkers from each of the five boroughs are fun. And did you know that non-hearing NY’rs sign with an accent? (really!).

To my delight and on a personal note, local NYC television host (WBC- TV) for over 40 years, Joe Franklin makes an appearance. My sixth grade class went on a field trip to his studio in 1953, where he signed my autograph book. Nestled between Leon Fischer’s sentimental “Good Luck untill [sic] the undertaker undertakes to take you under” and Tony Silvestro’s lewd “Roses are red, violets are blue, boy what foam rubber can do for you” ( sixth grade boys have such a honed wit) is Joe Franklin’s terse “To Susan, Sincerely, Joe Franklin, 1953.” still…


  1. I need to watch this. I kept trying to view How Does a New Yawka Talk but couldn’t get it to play on my laptop or phone. Very frustrating..


  2. What a fabulous review! I’m going to watch it right now. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Hey, why da hell don’t you tawk like dat?


  3. If Knishes sounds terrific, but I think it must be on Netflix DVD only. I’ll see if I can find it elsewhere.
    My friend Nina offered this suggestion:I’ve been binge-watching lately about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family living in Jerusalem, called Shtisel. I find it really interesting and enjoyable, even though it’s about a group I don’t agree with on anything.


  4. Love your review and particularly your autograph book. Took me right back to 6th grade!

    Sent from my iPad



  5. I loved “If These Knishes Could Talk” and I’m not even a New Yorker. What a gem!! The focus on accents and linguistics is really fun and engaging (loved the ASL parts!) but it goes way beyond that. 
    It’s a love letter to New York City for sure, but not from the usual perspective as the center of wealth, power and glamour. It’s much more about the origins of NYC as the first port of call for millions of poor immigrants who settled there and managed to find a way to live together in close quarters and eventually create an incredible melting pot of culture and vitality. Not to sentimentalize the horrible discrimination over the past 175 years or so, but this film is a strong argument for the importance of immigration and what really makes the USA great. Thanks for this brilliant recommendation, Susan!  

    P.S. I found “ITKCT” on Youtube for free, but with a few brief ads. First of all, I’m cheap, but second, I refuse to support Jeff Bezos, so have been boycotting all things Amazon for months now. Believe me, it’s a sacrifice!!


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