The Pawnbroker (Jun-1964)
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers: Morton S. Fine; David Friedkin
From novel: The Pawnbroker by Edward Lewis Wallant
Keywords: Drama, New York, Harlem
Review by Don Jennings (posted on 4-May-2007)
A superb movie with extraordinary performances allround. Emotionally overpowering! Steiger at his best. Only his performance in "The Heat of the Night" approaches this in magnitude. I realize that he won an Oscar for "Heat." By all that is right he should have won for his portrayal of Sol Nazerman, the unfeeling, emotionally detached Harlem pawnbroker. I defy anyone to cite any scene in the history of cinema that can match the power of Steiger when responding to Jaime Sanchez' query, "What is it about you people?" (Jews). In a scene of intense compression, Sol explains what its like to be a Jew. I get shivers up-and-down my spine everytime I see it, and I've seen it at least fifteen times. The black-and-white photography is a plus as is the musical score by Quincy Jones ("In The Heat of the Night" & "In Cold Blood"). I was relatively young when I first saw this one and I wondered if I would like it as much when it became available on DVD. I did. I now realize that the sixties were the most fertile decade for cinematic genius; e.g., "Look Back In Anger," "In Cold Blood," "Tom Jones," "In The Heat of the Night," "Repulsion," "Midnight Cowboy," etc. The decline of American cinema is tragic indeed. A friend of mine summed up what it's all about now. Hollywood, generally, appeals to a very moronic audience. I realize there are exceptions but in the main, it's a steady diet of bilge. The message to the teenage audience is essentially, "It's loud, you're stupid, you'll love it." If you want to see a cinematic giant see "The Pawnbroker" and witness what it was like in the days of the giants! Steiger's performance is dazzling.
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