Anne Nichols' Broadway comedy Abie's Irish Rose was almost universally panned when it opened in 1923. But despite the moans and wails of the critics (notably Robert Benchley, who turned his weekly drubbing of the play into an art form), the Nichols piece ended up as one of the longest-running plays in American theatrical history. Inevitably, the play spawned innumerable imitators, many of which had been committed to film long before the movie version of Abie's Irish Rose was released in April of 1928. It will be recalled that the story concerns the "mixed" romance between Jewish Abie Levy (Charles Rogers) and Irish Rosemary Murphy (Nancy Carroll). Taking into consideration the ethnic antagonism between the Levys and the Murphys, the road to the altar for Abie and Rosemary is a rocky one. Even after the couple is married, an argument rages between the parents over whether the first grandchild will be raised as a Jew or a Catholic. Fortunately, Providence takes a hand in matters when Rosemary thoughtfully gives birth to twins. Holdovers from the original Broadway cast include Bernard Gorcey as family attorney Isaac Cohen; Gorcey, the father of Leo Gorcey, is best remembered today as Louie Dumbrowski, the gullible sweet-shop proprietor in the Bowery Boys comedies of the 1940s and 1950s. Completed as a silent film, Abie's Irish Rose was released with a brief talkie sequence, padding the running time out to an ungainly 120 minutes. Though no classic, the original Abie's Irish Rose was far better than the phlegmatic and outdated 1946 remake.
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