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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.

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Writers:

(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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Jaime Sánchez ...
Jesus Ortiz (as Jaime Sanchez)
Thelma Oliver ...
Ortiz' Girl
Marketa Kimbrell ...
Tessie
...
Mendel
Juano Hernandez ...
Mr. Smith
Linda Geiser ...
Ruth Nazerman
Nancy R. Pollock ...
Bertha
...
Tangee
John McCurry ...
Buck
...
Robinson
Eusebia Cosme ...
Mrs. Ortiz
Warren Finnerty ...
Savarese
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Storyline

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

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The Most Talked About Picture!

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

20 April 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El prestamista  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the filmmakers appealed to the MPAA's appeals board to oppose censoring the film, it became the first U.S. film to show a nude woman from the waist up and be granted a Production Code Seal. It was the first of a series of confrontations between filmmakers and the MPAA in the 1960s, that would lead to the abandonment of the Code within five years, in favor of a ratings system. See more »

Goofs

In the very last scene of the film, Sol pierces his left hand on a receipt spindle. When he walks out of the pawn shop, he is looking in pain at his right hand. See more »

Quotes

Marilyn Birchfield: What happened?
Sol Nazerman: 'Happened'?
Marilyn Birchfield: Yes.
Sol Nazerman: I didn't die. Everything that I loved... was taken away from me, and... I did not die.
Marilyn Birchfield: Mr. Nazerman!
Sol Nazerman: There was... nothing I could do. Nothing. Strange, I could do nothing. No, there was nothing I could do.
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Connections

Featured in By Sidney Lumet (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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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.


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