The Pawnbroker (1964)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  20 April 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 5,712 users  
Reviews: 74 user | 53 critic

A Jewish pawnbroker, victim of Nazi persecution, loses all faith in his fellow man until he realizes too late the tragedy of his actions.



(screenplay) (as Morton Fine) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jaime Sánchez ...
Jesus Ortiz (as Jaime Sanchez)
Thelma Oliver ...
Ortiz' Girl
Marketa Kimbrell ...
Baruch Lumet ...
Juano Hernandez ...
Mr. Smith
Linda Geiser ...
Ruth Nazerman
Nancy R. Pollock ...
Raymond St. Jacques ...
John McCurry ...
Charles Dierkop ...
Eusebia Cosme ...
Mrs. Ortiz
Warren Finnerty ...


In a poor neighborhood of New York, the bitter and lonely Jewish pawnbroker Sol Nazerman is a survivor from Auschwitz that has no emotions or feelings. Sol lost his dearest family and friends in the war and his faith in God and belief in mankind. Now he only cares for money and is haunted by daydreams, actually flashbacks from the period of the concentration camp. Sol's assistant is the ambitious Latino Jesus Ortiz, who wants to learn with Sol how to run a business of his own. When Sol realizes that the obscure laundry business he has with the powerful gangster Rodriguez comes also from brothels, Sol recalls the fate of his beloved wife in the concentration camp and has a nervous breakdown. His attitude leads Jesus Ortiz to tragedy and Sol finds a way to cry. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Talked About Picture!




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Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

20 April 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El prestamista  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Most of the action of the film takes place on the west side of Park Avenue just to the north of 116th Street. See more »


In the park, while sitting on the bench, Sol is in slightly different positions between shots. See more »


Jesus Ortiz: Say, how come you people come to business so naturally?
Sol Nazerman: You people? Oh, let's see. Yeah. I see. I see, you... you want to learn the secret of our success, is that right? Alright I'll teach you. First of all you start off with a period of several thousand years, during which you have nothing to sustain you but a great bearded legend. Oh my friend you have no land to call your own, to grow food on or to hunt. You have nothing. You're never in one place long enough to have a geography or an army ...
See more »


Featured in The 77th Annual Academy Awards (2005) See more »


Soul Bossa Nova
Written by Quincy Jones
Performed by Quincy Jones and His Orchestra
Courtesy of Mercury Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Never has internal pain been so vividly portrayed.
1 January 2004 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

This is in my 50 best movies of all time list.

Rod Steiger,a gifted actor, is at his very best here portraying Sol Nazerman, a pawnbroker who is completely shut down emotionally.

Through flashbacks, some fast, mostly slow, we see both the joy and subsequent horror of Sol's life in Nazi Germany, when his wife and children are swept into the camps and killed. Sol's deepest pain is that he survived and he carries it visibly. Nothing touches him. He is removed from humanity, living a life outside anyone else's.

This is never more exemplified than at his shop, where he is behind bars, often in shadow, while humanity moves outside, sometimes pleading with him, sometimes just wishing to make an emotional contact to no avail.

Brilliant black and white photography. Quincy Jones' music underscores this, it is jazzy 60s type of music, loud and vibrant, totally contrasting with the dark, dead world of Sol.

The supporting cast are terrific and the outdoor location shooting in New York is riveting. The movement of street life against the heaviness of Sol's plodding.

I still find it hard to believe that Rod lost the Oscar to Lee Marvin in the forgettable "Cat Ballou" (!!) that year.

This has to be seen by any serious lovers of movies. The last scene, done in one continuous take is heartbreaking, Sol finally getting in touch with the pain he has buried so deeply. Gut wrenching stuff. 9 out of 10.

50 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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