Fiddler on the Roof (film)

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Fiddler on the Roof is a 1971 film version of the stage musical, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem. Tevye the Milkman is a Jewish peasant in pre-Revolutionary Russia, coping with the day-to-day problems of "shtetl" life, his Jewish traditions, his family (wife and daughters), and state-sanctioned programs.

Directed by Norman Jewison. Written by Sholom Aleichem and Joseph Stein
Shout It From The Rooftops! (taglines)


  • [Opening lines] A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But, here, in our little village of Anatevka, every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay here if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition!
  • Because of our traditions, we have kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to how to eat, how to sleep, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer-shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition start? I'll tell you. I don't know. But it's a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is, and what God expects him to do.
  • Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!
  • [to God] Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if You are thinking, "What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?"
  • [to God] It may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. After all, with Your help, I'm starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many many poor people. I realize, of course, it's no shame to be poor... but it's no great honor either. So what would be so terrible... if I had a small fortune?
  • As the Good Book says, if you spit in the air, it lands in your face.
  • [to God] I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?
  • [to Chava] As the Good Book says "Each shall seek his own kind". In other words, a bird may love a fish... but where would they build a home together?
  • When I get angry, even flies don't dare to fly!
  • Golde, I am the man in the family! I am the head of the house! And I want to see Motel's new machine now! [looks inside Motel's house for barely a second] Now let's go home!
  • [to God] Am I bothering You too much? I'm sorry. As the good book says... aaahh, why should I tell You what the Good Book says?
  • [Last lines] All right, children. Let's go.
  • As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
  • On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try and bend that far, I'll break. On the other hand... No. There is no other hand.


  • If God lived on earth, people would break His windows.
  • Ah, children, they are your blessing in your old age. But of course my Aaron couldn't give me children. Between you and me, Golde, he hardly tried.
  • Not everyone is a man!
  • From such children, come other children!


  • Hodel: [to Tevye] The world is changing, Papa.
  • Fyedka: [introducing himself to Chava] I'm a pleasant fellow - charming, honest, ambitious, quite bright, and very modest.
  • Hodel: We only have one Rabbi, and he only has one son. Why shouldn't I want the best?
  • Motel: If the rich could hire others to die for them, we, the poor, would all make a nice living.
  • Motel: Even a poor tailor is entitled to some happiness!
  • Motel: You'll all chatter yourselves away into the grave.


Tevye: As the good book says, when a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick.
Neighbor: Where does the book say that?
Tevye: Well, it doesn't say that exactly, but somewhere there is something about a chicken. Good Sabbath!

Tevye: [singing] Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?
Golde: [singing] I don't remember growing older. When did they?

Perchik: In this world it is the wealthy who are criminals. Someday their wealth will be ours.
Tevye: That would be nice. If they would agree, I would agree.

Tevye: As Abraham said, "I am a stranger in a strange land..."
Neighbor: Moses said that.
Tevye: Ah. Well, as King David said, "I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue."
Neighbor: That was also Moses.
Tevye: For a man who was slow of tongue, he talked a lot.

Perchik: Money is the world's curse.
Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it! And may I never recover!

Lazar Wolfe: How is your brother-in-law? In America?
Tevye: Oh, he's doing very well.
Lazar Wolfe: Oh, he wrote you?
Tevye: No, not lately.
Lazar Wolfe: Then how do you know?
Tevye: If he was doing badly, he would write.

Tevye: Pardon me, Lazar Wolfe, but how can a little cow keep you company?
Lazar Wolfe: "Little Cow"?! is that what you call her?!
Tevye: What else am I to call her? She is a cow!
Lazar Wolfe: What are you talking about?
Tevye: No, what are you talking about?
Lazar Wolfe: No, what are you talking about?
Tevye: No, what are you talking about?


Lazar Wolfe: No, what are you talking about?
Tevye: The new milk cow you want to buy from me!
Lazar Wolfe: A milk cow keep me company!

[Both laugh].

Constable: You're an honest, decent person. Even though you are a Jew.
Tevye: Oh... Thank you, your honor. How often does a man get a compliment like that?

Tevye: Thank you, your honor. You are a good man. If I may say so, it's too bad you're not a Jew.
Constable: [laughs] That's what I like about you, Tevye. You're always joking.

Lazar Wolfe: Have a drink?
Tevye: I won't insult you by saying no.

Perchik: I'm a very good teacher.
Hodel: I heard that the Rabbi who must congratulate himself has a congregation of one.

Perchik: Your daughter has a quick and witty tongue.
Tevye: Yes, the wit she gets from me. As the good book says...
Golde: The good book can wait, it's time for Sabbath!
Tevye: The tongue she gets from her mother.

Villager: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!
Tevye: Very good. That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.

Neighbor: (gestures at Simba and Motel) He's right, and he's right? They can't both be right.
Tevye: You know... you are also right.

Motel: You won't be sorry! You won't be sorry!
Tevye: I won't be sorry? I'm sorry already!

Young Jewish Man: Rabbi, may I ask you a question?
Rabbi: Certainly, my son.
Young Jewish Man: Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?
Rabbi: A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... far away from us!

Golde: We will be staying with Uncle Avram.
Chava: Yes, mama.
(She leaves with Fyedka. The annoyed Tevye faces Golde)
Tevye: We will be staying with Uncle Avram. We will be staying with Uncle Avram!!! THE WHOLE WORLD HAS TO KNOW OUR BUSINESS!!!
Golde: Stop yelling and finish packing. We have a long way to go.
Tevye: Golde, I don't need your advice!!!! Tzeitel, don't forget the baby.


  • A tradition
  • The screen's most magnificent entertainment returns... filled with joy, laughter, love and life.
  • Shout It From The Rooftops!
  • To Life!


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