The film was an unexpected success at the cinema coffers. According to Variety, he earned $3.9 million in rentals in the United States in 1948.  `Garfield, John` accepted the role after producer Darryl F. Zanuck promised that the film would remain true to Moss Hart`s script. Despite his limited role, Garfield received a full star salary. The words sound clear from the Mayfair screen and there is no doubt about their meaning. They do not get lost in the wind, but hit you fully in the face, so that you sit down and take note of the strength behind them. The film evokes three real people known for their bigotry: Theodore Bilbo, a senator from Mississippi, who worked to send all African Americans back to Africa; Mississippi Congressman John Rankin, who called columnist Walter Winchell “the little kike” on the floor of the house; and the leader of the Nationalist-Christian crusade Gerald Smith, who sued the film Twentieth Century-Fox Corp. to prevent the film from being screened in Tulsa. He lost the case, but Smith sued Fox for $1,000,000 through the court system that finally dismissed him in 1951. In addition to winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Direction, Gentleman`s Agreement was one of Fox`s highest-grossing films of 1947. However, the political character of the film angered the House Un-American Activities Committee, Elia Kazan, Darryl Zanuck, John Garfield and Anne Revere before the commission.
Revere refused to testify, and even though Garfield appeared, he refused to “give names.” Both were included in the red channels on Hollywood`s blacklist. Garfield remained on the blacklist for a year, was again called to testify against his wife and died of a heart attack at the age of 39 before his second hearing. The film is now as powerful as it was when it won the Oscar for Best Picture a few years after Hitler`s genocide in Europe. The film was controversial in its time, as was a similar film on the same subject, Crossfire, released the same year (although this film was originally a story of homophobia, which was later turned into anti-Semitism). Philip Schuyler Green, a widowed journalist, comes to New York city with his son Tommy and his mother from California to work for Smith`s Weekly, a leading national magazine. John Minify, the publisher, wants Phil to write a series about anti-Semitism, but Phil is lukewarm on the order. At a party, Phil Minify`s niece meets Kathy Lacy, a divorcee attracted to Phil, and Kathy reminds her uncle that she proposed the series some time ago. Tommy asks his father about anti-Semitism, and when Phil struggles to explain it, he decides to accept the mission. However, he is frustrated by his inability to find a satisfying approach, as he and Minify want the series to go beyond simply discovering the “crackpot” mentality.
After trying to imagine what his Jewish childhood friend Dave Goldman, now in the military abroad, must feel when he experiences bigotry, Phil decides to write from a Jewish perspective. However, he continues to struggle to write until he realizes that certain things can never be known until they are experienced first-hand, and that the only way to live the necessary experience is to appear Jewish in the eyes of others. When Minify announces the series of a midday band, Phil incidentally mentions that he is Jewish.