"Eskimo Lemon" (Film Series)
"Eskimo Lemon" is an Israeli film series consisting of nine films and one spin-off, released between 1978 and 2001.
The first film in the series, "Eskimo Lemon," was released in 1978. Directed by Boaz Davidson and starring Yftach Katzur, Jonathan Segal, Tzachi Noy, and Anat Atzmon, it became the most commercially successful Israeli film of all time, achieving unprecedented box office success and establishing itself as a cult classic. Its popularity led to the production of a series of sequels.
The title of the film is based on a popular slang term from that era.
In 1979, the first sequel, "Going Steady," was released. Anat Atzmon did not participate in this sequel, leading to a promotional effort to find a new "Eskimo Lemon girl." Eventually, actress Ivon Micklish was chosen for the role. "Going Steady" sold 640,000 tickets in Israel and 1.5 million in Western Germany.
Debby Kedar portrayed Sonia, the stereotypical and dominating Polish mother of Benzi, in films one through six of the series. Menashe Warshavsky played Romak, Benzi's father, who was controlled by Sonia, in films one through five.
Following the initial films, additional movies in the series were produced, featuring Katzur, Segal, and Noy in the lead roles, alongside a changing cast of supporting actors. One of the notable films from this period is "Lemon Popsicle 4" (1982), where actor Yosef Shiloach played a stereotypical French commander. This film also featured Moshe Ish-Kassit and Devora Bakon.
For most critics, the later films in the series did not match the quality of the earlier ones, despite their success at the box office. The third installment, "Hot Bubble," sold 570,000 tickets in Israel and 1,757,426 in Western Germany. The fourth film, "Private Popsicle," attracted 660,000 viewers in Israel and 1,293,759 in Western Germany.
In 1983, a film titled "Savannah" was released, not officially part of the Eskimo Lemon series but sometimes referred to as "Eskimo Lemon 4.5" because it was released between "Private Popsicle" (Eskimo Lemon 4) and "Small Change" (Eskimo Lemon 5). Directed by Tzvi Shissel, this film focused on Zachi Noy's character's experiences in the military and sold 320,000 tickets in Israel and 285,000 in Western Germany.
The fifth film in the series, "Small Change," saw a change in directorship, with Boaz Davidson opting to write the screenplay instead, and the directorial role was taken over by Dan Wolman. It was watched by 309,000 people in Israel and 973,357 in Western Germany. The sixth film, "Baby Love," partially directed by Walter Bannert and Reinhard Schwabenitzky, continued in the same vein and was dubbed in German.
It sold 530,211 tickets in Western Germany. The seventh and eighth films in the series were directed by foreign directors (Walter Bannert and Reinhard Schwabenitzky) and were entirely in German. The seventh film, "Young Love" (released in Israel with a Hebrew dub), attracted 530,211 viewers in Western Germany, while the eighth, "Blues for Summer" (not released in Israel), had 168,758 viewers in the same country.
In 1982, an American version of the first film was released, titled "The Last American Virgin," written and directed by Boaz Davidson.
In 2001, the film "Eskimo Lemon: The Celebration Continues" attempted to update the series with a younger cast, including actors Niki Goldstein, Ido Lev, and Elad Stefansky. Directed by Zvi Shissel, it achieved modest box office success with 152,869 tickets sold but did not replicate the success of the original film.
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