The Pawnbroker

1964 | Drama | In English | 116 minutes

Info

Sol Nazerman is a Holocaust survivor. His two children died in a cattle car on the way to Auschwitz. His wife was brutally raped before she succumbed. He is tortured that he is the sole member of his family who survived. Sol currently operates a pawn shop in East Harlem assisted by Jesus Ortiz, a young Puerto Rican who idolizes him. Sol is bitter and angry as he hallucinates about the past. He is cruel to his customers calling them “rejects and scum.” He dismisses Marilyn Birchfield, a kindly social worker, who reaches out to help him. Sol then becomes aware that Rodriguez, a Harlem gangster, is using the pawn shop as a front for prostitution. Sol remembers his wife’s degradation and rape and he clashes with Rodriguez. And, hurtfully, he tells his admiring assistant, Ortiz, that he is useless. His feelings hurt, Ortiz arranges to have the pawnshop   robbed by a neighborhood gang. The result is indeed tragic. 

Cast
Rod Steiger (Sol Nazerman) / Jaime Sanchez (Jesus Ortiz) / Brock Peters (Rodriguez) / Geraldine Fitzgerald (Marilyn Birchfield)
Why Stream This Film?
This was the first film produced in the United States that depicted the emotional damage suffered by a Holocaust survivor. Written by Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin and directed by the incomparable Sidney Lumet, The Pawnbroker should be seen as a reminder that some of the “lucky” survivors of the Holocaust, never truly fully survived.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
Accolades
  • British Film Academy (BAFTA): Best Actor (Rod Steiger)
  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Bear for Best Actor (Rod Steiger)
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Rod Steiger)
  • The Pawnbroker was selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Now streaming on:

There’s no other way to say it: ROMA is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, and one of the most moving. If Norma Desmond had been able to see it she wouldn’t have worried about the pictures getting small.
Joe Morgenstern

The Wall Street Journal

Few directors tell large-scale stories with as much sensitivity as Cuarón. In ROMA he refined his style of marshaling various narrative strategies, including cinematic spectacle.  He uses both intimacy and monumentality to express the depths of ordinary life.
Manohla Dargis

The New York Times

THE PAWNBROKER is a significant film. Rising to the occasion, Rod Steiger renders a towering performance as the volatile survivor, a powder keg of hateful remembrances, who has become detached and remote in the modern world. Dark and haunting, THE PAWNBROKER is a drama of a man who has eschewed involvement and compassion, living a barren, rootless life, and is in desperate need for redemption.
Emmanuel Levy

film critic

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