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The Glass Wall (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 July 1953 (Finland)
Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Kaban
Maggie Summers
Douglas Spencer ...
Inspector Bailey
Tanya aka Bella Zakoyla
Elizabeth Slifer ...
Mrs. Hinckley - Landlady
Richard Reeves ...
Eddie Hinckley
Freddie Zakoyla (as Joseph Turkel)
Else Bäck ...
Mrs. Zakoyla (as Else Neft)
Michael Fox ...
Inspector Toomey / Narrator
Nesdon Booth ...
Monroe - Taxi Driver (as Ned Booth)
Zelda - Fat Woman
Juney Ellis ...
Girl friend
Jack Teagarden ...


Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie, a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Shorty Rogers and his band and trombonist Jack Teagarden are playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla, takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE 10-HOUR MANHUNT...that tore New York apart!


Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

31 July 1953 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Die gläserne Mauer  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


In 1953, Columbia Pictures distributed this film on a double bill with Jack McCall, Desperado (1953) starring George Montgomery. See more »


The lights on the elevator floor indicator show that the elevator in United Nations building seem to travel 36 floors in three to five seconds. That kind of acceleration, speed, and braking would injure any occupants of the elevator; especially the elderly operator. That distance in that period of time would equate to almost sixty miles per hour. See more »


Mrs. Zakoyla: Don't forget, your dead father was a lousy foreigner!
See more »


References This Woman Is Dangerous (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

Better Than Expected
9 January 2012 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

The movie came as a rather pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much, not having heard of it among Grahame's usual list of noirs. Nonetheless, it's imaginatively directed and generally suspenseful, despite a one-note plot. Refugee Kaban (Gassman) arrives in New York as a stowaway, but will be deported if he doesn't track down a musician friend. So he searches the dives along Times Square looking for the guy he last saw in Europe. While he's tracking his friend, however, the cops are tracking him. There's also a number of sub-plots concerning people he meets on the way, who sort of drift in and out.

There's atmosphere a-plenty as director Shane takes the camera crew along Times Square's night beat, which amounts to a dazzling b&w light show. At the same time, Gassman's gaunt frame and few words add to the carnival of characters. Grahame has a sympathetic role, for a change, which may be why the film remains obscure. Here, she's mostly a tag- along with Gassman and then with the cops. But I really like the unknown Robin Raymond as the personality-plus stripper who lights up the screen in a brief role.

At first, I thought "the glass wall" referred to Kaban's inability to enter the country as a stowaway. But then, the many imposing shots of the glass slab of the UN building changed my reference. Nonetheless, it looks like a number of scenes were actually filmed in the UN, lending the story even more visual appeal. All in all, the movie's a pretty good dramatic travelogue of downtown NYC, slim on plot and dialog but fat on inventive visuals. It's also reminiscent of a time when Europe's post-war DP's (displaced persons) were much in the news.

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