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Tevya (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 21 December 1939 (USA)
The original, non-musical film version of the book which inspired "Fiddler on the Roof".


Maurice Schwartz


Sholom Aleichem (story "Khavah and play "Tevye der Milkhiker""), Marcy Klauber (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
1 win. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Maurice Schwartz ... Tevya 'Tevye'
Miriam Riselle Miriam Riselle ... Chavah 'Khave'
Rebecca Weintraub Rebecca Weintraub ... Goldie 'Golde'
Paula Lubelski Paula Lubelski ... Zeitel 'Tseytl'
Leon Liebgold Leon Liebgold ... Fedya 'Fedye' Galagen
Vicki Marcus Vicki Marcus ... Shloimele
Betty Marcus Betty Marcus ... Perele
Julius Adler Julius Adler ... Aleksei, the Priest
Daniel Makarenko ... Mikita Galagen, Fedya's Father
Helen Grossman Helen Grossman ... Mrs. Galagen, Mikita's Wife
Morris Strassberg Morris Strassberg ... Starosta
Al Harris Al Harris ... Zazuli 'Zuzuya'
Louis Weisberg Louis Weisberg ... Shtarsina
Boas Young Boas Young ... Uradnick, the Officer


Tevye is a dairyman in the Russian Ukraine early in the 20th century. He lives in a cabin outside Boyberik with his wife Goldie, his widowed daughter Tseytl, her two children, and his younger daughter, the unmarried Khave. Khave is being courted by Fedya, a Christian, the son of a local government official. Tevye warns Khave against romance and marriage outside her faith, but Fedya is persuasive too. What will Khave decide, how will Tevye react, and when the Tsar initiates a pogrom, will Tevye's friends come to his defense? Can the stubborn Tevye reconcile his heart and tradition? "On the other hand..." Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tevye See more »


Box Office


$70,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Maymon Film Inc. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Although he isn't credited as an author of the script, the film is a faithful adaptation of the stage play "Tevye the Dairyman," written by Sholem Aleichem himself shortly before his death in 1916. He first offered the play to Jacob P. Adler, one of the great actors of the Yiddish theater, who declined, because there was no romantic leading role. Maurice Schwartz hear about the play, bought the rights from Sholem Aleichem's widow and staged it with himself in the lead role, to great success. Two decades later, he turned it into this film. The script is substantially as written by Sholem Aleichem, despite the introduction of characters and elements not contained in his original short stories. See more »


When he recites the Havdalah prayer ending the Sabbath, Tevye forgets to include the blessing over the spices. See more »


Version of Broken Barriers (1919) See more »

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User Reviews

I played the part of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof but this movie surpasses the 1971 musical.
7 November 2001 | by johnnygnoteSee all my reviews

I had the pleasure of performing as Tevye in a Flagstaff AZ production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1999. I have to say after watching Tevye the Milkman (1939) I was astounded at the story and portrayal of Tevye in this movie. It was not only outstanding but moved me to tears. I was amazed at the events that took place. Some being similar to the musical version but the 1939 version was much more emotional and moving. If you think Fiddler on the Roof (Topal) was great, then you must see this movie. Strip away the music and tell the tale as it was written and you have one of the most outstanding straight plays I have ever seen. A true portrayal of the suffering of the Russian Jews. A big "Thumbs Up".

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