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The Pawnbroker (1964)

Approved | | Drama | 20 April 1965 (USA)
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 ...
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
See  »

Did You Know?


Baruch Lumet (Mendel) was the father of the director Sidney Lumet. See more »


When the gun goes off, it is clearly aimed to Ortiz' side (toward the camera) and not at his stomach. See more »


Marilyn Birchfield: What makes you so bitter?
Sol Nazerman: Bitter?
Sol Nazerman: No, no, Miss Birchfield, I am not *bitter*. No, that passed me by a million years ago. I'm a man of no anger. I have no desire for vengeance for what was done to me. I have escaped from the emotions. I am safe within myself. All I ask and want is peace and quiet.
Marilyn Birchfield: Why haven't you found them?
Sol Nazerman: Because people like you will not let me. Miss Birchfield, you have made the afternoon very tedious with your constant search for an answer. And one more thing: ...
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.
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User Reviews

Disturbing but a great Steiger performance...
10 October 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Pawnbroker is a very disturbing film. The title character, Sol Nazerman,

played by Rod Steiger, is an aging Holocaust concentration camp survivor

running a pawnshop in New York. A young hispanic man who works in the

pawnshop looks up to Steiger's character, hoping to learn from the older man's years of experience and expertise in both financial and other business matters.

Steiger's character is emotionally closed throughout the entire length of the film. Jarrring flashbacks to the time when Nazerman was happy with his wife and two small children become increasingly menacing and tragic as the Nazi

domination and cruelty become more dominant. Steiger's character survives his family. The guilt attached to that survival haunts Nazerman as he numbly

proceeds throughout the present-day portions of the film.

This movie takes a huge risk even in it's premise because the title character is never really likable. You certainly have empathy for what Nazerman has

experienced in his life, but the harsh and dismissive way in which he treats both people close to him and the tragic figures who frequent his pawnshop leave you little choice but to have mixed feelings about this man.

Rod Steiger is excellent. It's incredible to think that less than three years later after playing this character, an elderly Jewish concentration camp survivor,

Steiger won an Oscar for his portraying southern bigoted police chief Bill

Gillespie in Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night.

Sidney Lumet's direction is excellent. The photography is a starkly shot black and white with a grainy almost documentary-type feel to it. The score by Quincy Jones is somewhat uneven, with inappropriate upbeat instrumentation intruding in to somber scenes.

All in all, a very good film, but definitely excruciatingly somber in tone.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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