A Magic Box (film #24 in the General section of the State of Israel section of Stephen Spielberg Jewish Film Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This 50s film documents an American teenaged girl named Hannah’s trip to Israel that she won for being the JNF Blue Box Champion; that is, collecting the most money for the Jewish National Fund in little blue coin boxes. The film begins in a very bright and breezy way, as she expresses her excitement about her trip and her celebrity status, and the Tel Aviv Blue Box Champion, a young boy named David, shows her the different tricks of the trade he uses to get people to contribute. The film gets more serious as it shows Hannah how the money is being spent in land reclamation and in helping develop pioneer settlements in the Israeli frontier. This is a fun film which also has an educational and promotional message that is not too heavy-handed. I liked seeing the little blue boxes and hearing their history at one point in the film. The film has historical value in documenting the fundraising practices of the Jewish National Fund during the 50s.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

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