The Chosen - 1981
The overemphatic acting of Robby Benson was something of an endurance test to certain critics of the 1980s, but even these carpers were impressed by Benson's outstanding performance in The Chosen. Set in the Brooklyn of the 1940s, the film elucidates the friendship between two young Jews of differing factions. Benson is Hassidic, while Barry Miller is a Zionist. Though separated ideologically, the boys find a common bond through their love of stickball. Rod Steiger costars as Benson's rabbi father, delivering a performance virtually devoid of the mannered stridency that has marred many of his more recent film work. Based on a novel by Chaim Potok, The Chosen has become an annual Hannukah-season TV attraction in many cities; years after its release, the film served as the basis for a short-lived Broadway musical.