American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"The House I Live In" (1945)

 

Frank Sinatra Talks to a Gang of Boys About Religious Bigotry

Audio mp3 delivered by Frank Sinatra

 

[Scene Context: A gang of some 10 young boys with malicious intent chase and corner a young Jewish boy in the back alley of a sound studio. Frank Sinatra, who has just taken a 5 minute "smoke" break during a lull in his vocal recording session, happens upon the scene.]

 

Sinatra: Someone in for a lickin'?

Boy #1: You bet. We're gonna smear him.

Sinatra: Yeah, but 10 against 1 -- that's not very fair.

Boy #1: Ah, come on....[gang of boys attempts to scramble past Sinatra to get to the Jewish boy]

 

Sinatra: What's it all about?

Boy #1: None of your business.

Sinatra: Scared to tell me? 

Boy #1: No, I'm not a scared. I'll fight you, even.

Sinatra: Not if I can help it. I just wanna know why the gang war.

 

Boy #2: We don't like him. We don't want him in our neighborhood or going to our school.

Jewish Boy: I've been livin' here long as you.

Sinatra: What's he got: smallpox our somethin'?

Boy #3: We don't like his religion. 

 

Sinatra: His religion?!

Boy #4: Look, mister, he's a dir --

 

Sinatra: Now hold on. I see what you mean.  You must be a bunch of those Nazi Werwolves I've been readin' about.

Boy #5: Mister, are you screwy?

Sinatra: Not me. I'm an American.

Boy #6: Well whataya think we are? 

Sinatra: Nazis.

 

Boy #1: Don't call me a Nazi. My father's a sergeant in the Army. He'd been wounded, even.

Sinatra: Wounded, eh? Say, I bet he got some of that blood plasma. 

Boy #1: He was wounded so bad he had to get it three times.

Sinatra: [turning to the Jewish boy] Son, anybody in your family ever go to the blood bank?

Jewish Boy: Sure -- my mother and my father both.

 

Sinatra: Uh huh. You know what? I betcha maybe his pop's blood helped save your dad's life. That's bad.

Boy #1: What's bad about it?

Sinatra: Well, don't you see? Your father doesn't go to the same church as his father does. That's awful. Do you think maybe if your father knew about it in time he would rather have died than to take blood from a man of another religion? Would you have wanted him to die? Would your mom wanted him to die?

Boy #1: No!

 

Sinatra: Look, fellas: Religion makes no difference. Except maybe to a Nazi -- or somebody as stupid. Why, people all over the world worship God in many different ways. God created everybody. He didn't create one people better than another. Your blood's the same as mine; mine's the same as his [gesturing to bullied boy]. Do you know what this wonderful country is made of? It's made up of a hundred different kind of people. And a hundred different ways of talking. And a hundred different ways of goin' to church. But they're all American ways. Wouldn't we be silly if we went around hating people because they combed their hair different than ours? Wouldn't we be a lot of dopes?

My dad came from Italy. But I'm an American. But should I hate your father because he came from Ireland or France or Russia? Wouldn't that be a first class fathead? You guys remember Pearl Harbor? Why the Japs socked us so it looked like we could never do anything about it. But a couple of days later something very important happened. Close your eyes and let me tell you about it. Come on, go on, close your eyes. Go on, we want you to imagine it.

There was a Jap battleship, the Haruna, and one of our planes spotted it. You know what it takes to bomb a battleship? It takes guts and know-how and teamwork. And our boys sure needed plenty of it because that Jap was throwin' up enough flak to get out and walk home on. But the pilot had only one thing on his mind: to get over that ship. And he did. And then the bombardier pushed a button and a 500-hundred pound tomato smacked that Jap ship right in the middle.

Yep, they sank it. And every American through his head back and felt much better. The pilot of that ship was named Colin Kelly, an American and a Presbyterian. And you know who dropped the bombs? Meyer Levin, an American and a Jew. You think maybe they shoulda called the bombing off because they had different religions?

  Think about that, fellas. Use your good American heads. Don't let anybody make suckers out of you.

 

Sinatra: Well, gotta go to work.

Boy #5: What do you work?

Sinatra: I sing.


Further Information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_I_Live_In_%281945_film%29

 

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American Rhetoric.
HTML transcription by Michael E. Eidenmuller.