Lemon Popsicle אסקימו לימון (1978)
Country: Tel Aviv, Israel
Production company: Noah Films
Director: Boaz Davidson
Producer:Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan
Writer: Boaz Davidson, Eli Tavor
Yiftach Katzur, Jonathan Sagall, Zachi Noy, Anat Atzmon, Dvora Kedar, Menashe Warshavsky, Avi Hadash, Rachel Steiner …
- Eis Am Stiel (Germany)
- Growing Up (Japan)
- Going All The Way (USA)
- Jukebox (France)
- Pop Lemon (Italy)
- Polo de limón (Spain)
- Granita apo lemoni (Greece)
- Teen Pranks (Canada)
- Lody Na Patyku (Poland)
Benji, Bobby and Huey are three 17 year olds on the brink of manhood. Their days are spent chasing girls and hanging out at Montana, the local ice cream parlour. Bobby is the more confident of the three guys and has the most luck with the girls, which causes problems when Benji falls for the new girl at school, Nikki.
Benji tries to get her to date him but she seems to prefer Bobby and starts seeing him. He knows that Bobby is not in love with Nikki, but is just using her to steal her virginity and this makes Benji angry as he knows he has more to offer Nikki than Bobby ever could. Nikki cant see through Bobby though and begins to fall for his charm. When the inevitable happens and Bobby sleeps with Nikki for the first time she becomes pregnant, but Bobby just doesn’t want to know and tells her to stop hassling him.
She confides in Benji who tells her not to worry as from now on he will take care of her. While their school friends are on a trip they make plans to get Nikki an abortion and hide out at Benji’s grandmothers house. Benji sells his things in order to pay for the abortion, and Nikki is touched by his kindness. He finally admits that he is in love with her and always has been, and they tenderly kiss for the first time.
Benji has fallen for Nikki and hopes that she feels the same. He orders her an engraved locket for her birthday to prove his love for her, but is devastated when he walks into the party and see’s her back in Bobby’s arms! It seems that Nikki never really got over Bobby, and Benji leaves broken-hearten.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The first of the Lemon Popsicle movies began filming in the summer of 1977 when Boaz Davidson partnered with producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus to make a film based on his teenage life. Capturing the look and feel of the 1950’s and featuring a soundtrack of hits from the era. The title for the film came from the Tel Aviv beach in the 50’s and 60’s where ice cream vendors used to carry their ice boxes and scream Eskimo Limon!! Eskimo Limon!!
The movie focuses on three teenagers growing up in Tel Aviv and deals with their friendships with each other and their sexual experiences with the opposite sex. Along with the large dose of comedy and nudity, the film also tackled the more sensitive subjects of abortion and unrequited love and gave viewers an alternative look at teenage life in the 1950’s Tel Aviv.
“Lemon Popsicle is based on a true story. Benji in the movie is myself, so basically when I grew up, you know like anybody else who has the pains of growing up and so on” recalls director Boaz Davidson. “I think I kept some of the pain with me and when I was in my early thirties I decided to go back to those days and like finish the cycle and finish the story.”
At aged 18, Yiftach Katzur was cast as Benji (Bentzi), the sensitive shy guy of the Popsicle movies. “This is Benji, always sensitive, always complicated, always in love” (Bobby, Young Love), a quote that sums up Benji’s character perfectly. The role won Katzur an acting award for his portrayal of Benji that was selected by Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, and was a role that he would become synonymous with throughout his film career.
Jonathan Sagall auditioned for the role of Bobby (Momo) before his army service and secured the part when the makers called for him to make a pass at Anat Atzmon, who played Nikki (Nili) in the movie. After grabbing and kissing her, three days later he was starring in Lemon Popsicle.
The third leading role went to Zachi Noy, who had been noted by the makers after his performance in The Garden starring Melanie Griffiths. The film may have been forgetable but he was quickly cast as Huey (Yudale) without an screen test. Playing Huey was bittersweet for Zachi, as on the one hand it brought him great sucess but wasn’t a very pleasant acting experience for the young bulky star who felt uncomfortable baring all on the big screen.
The attention to detail is evident throughout Lemon Popsicle, from the hair styles, clothes, and posters on the walls, all help to capture the illusion of the 1950’s. One of the more memorable locations used in Lemon Popsicle is the Montana Diner and is the place we see as the film opens. The building is still standing today (Pictured left).
Upon its release on February 11th, 1978, Lemon Popsicle became an immediate hit, breaking every record set before it in Israel. 1,300,000 viewers flooded the theaters, meaning that almost half of the country went to see the film.
Following it’s success in Israel, the movie was screened at the MIFED International Film Market in Italy. Yoram Globus recalls, “It was the first time I attended MIFED. I’m screening my film and after 30 minutes people start walking out. In Israel it’s the biggest hit and here people are walking out??? I then realized they all ran to stand in line to buy the film for distribution – They were all afraid of someone else buying it first”.
Not only was Lemon Popsicle the first Israeli film to be screened at the Berlinale competition in 5 years but the screening was a huge success and viewers voted it the 4th most popular in the festival. German producer, Sam Waynberg, bought the distribution rights for Germany and signed the three lead actors to his company, thus insuring his involvement in future sequels. When it opened theatrically as Eis Am Stiel in Germany, it surpassed the success of the competing GREASE and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER.
Surprised by it’s international success, Boaz Davidson recalled “I didn’t know if the movie would be successful even in Israel. It was a small movie, it was totally based on my memories and the nice thing about it was that it was even shot in the same location where the real story happened. This doesn’t happen every day to a film maker, that you can go back to the so called crime scene. I went back, I did the movie and it was a huge surprise to me and everybody that it was such a huge hit all over the world.”
A Golden Globe nomination soon followed in 1979 and when released in Japan, it became one of the most profitable films in theaters. Lemon Popsicle was also commercially distributed in England, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Brazil, Korea, Thailand and more.
Director: Boaz Davidson
Producers: Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan
Assistant Director: Eliezer Birenbaum
Writers: Boaz Davidson, Eli Tavor
Cinematographer: Adam Greenberg
Film Editor: Alain Jakubowicz
Still Photographer: Yoni Hamenachem
Sound Department: Eli Yarkoni (Sound Mixer)
Jack Fishman (Music Supervisor)
Louis Elman (Dialogue Director)
Wardrobe Designer: Tammy Mor
Set Dressing: A. Roshko & A. Gershony
- Green Fields – The Brothers Four (Title Theme)
- Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
- Put Your Head On My Shoulder – Paul Anka
- Hey Baby! – Bruce Channel
- Rock around The Clock – Bill Haley
- Puppy Love – Paul Anka
- Volare – Domenico Modugno
- FBI – The Shadows
- Que Sera Sera – Rosemary Squires
- Chantilly Lace – Big Bopper
- My Little One – Frankie Laine
- Witch Doctor – Jon Morris
- At the Hop – Danny & The Juniors
- Diana – PAul Anka
- Shake Rattle & Roll – Bill Haley
- Sealed With A Kiss – Brian Hyland
- Seven Little Girls- Paul Evans & The Curls
- Come Prima – Marino Marini
- Hey Paula! – PAul & Paula
- Lollipop – The Chordettes
- You Are My Destiny – PAul Anka
- Ciao Ciao Bambina – Domenico Modugno
- To Know Him Is To Love Him – Jo Moss
- Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
- Mr Lonely – Bobby Vinton