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|Index||20 reviews in total|
A unique and terrific movie. Max Shell is the movie. One of his best acting performances. Complex plot calls for close focus and attention. It took quite some time to understand story due to its 'Cerebral layering' of just what is the goal of Shell's character. One very interesting note to movie is that it was based on a broadway play (which on opening had near riots by audiences due to misunderstanding of plot and closed shortly thereafter)and that was based on the original book, both written by none other then Robert Shaw (Capt Quint of 'Jaws' fame). Story is he was involved with the screenwriting or consulting, but in either case Shaw had his name removed in any connection with the movie. Why? Don't know. Unhappy with movie version?? The biggest trouble with this movie is that it is very, very difficult to find. Never shown on TV(where I originally saw on a PBS channel back in ~1979) or in most Video Catalogs. Find it.It's worth the effort. Best of luck.
"Booth," is Schell. Nominated for an Academy Award, he came up against
Jack Nicholson in "One flew over the cuckoo's nest." Watch each film,
then gauge each actor's performance. Then do it again. As fine as
Nicholson is, he is a couple of classes behind Schell. Schell spent
years specialising in this type of role, and absolutely perfected it in
"booth". Olivier and Brando must take a secondary role to Schell, and I
say that fully remembering Olivier's monologue in Rebecca, which was
I have many favourite films, Cinema Paradiso, Schindler's List, The Train, Wake in Fright, The Producers, Casablanca, to name a few. My choice is fairly orthodox, you would have to agree! But Schell makes "booth" my number one choice as greatest film ever. And Max is the greatest practitioner of the craft of acting I have ever seen.
As for the controversy associated with this film, I can fully understand it. No one comes out smelling to good in this movie, but in the end, it is humanity on trial, and human failings are, or should be forgiven.
This is my all-time favorite film. Maximilian Schell's Oscar-nominated performance completely dominates everything else on the screen. His long courtroom speeches are both disturbing and riveting. This is based on a book and play by Robert Shaw, who'll you'll probably remember as an actor from "The Sting", "Jaws" and "A Man for All Seasons". He disowned the movie version because of changes made. It has been too many years since I've seen the film, but I have re-read both book and play this month. I think a significant change to Col. Dorff's heritage was probably his objection. While I see his point, I think he overreacted. The film itself is a bit slow moving and everyone else is overpowered by Mr. Schell's breathtaking performance. But those flaws didn't kick in for me until I had seen the film a dozen or more times. It is a must see for Maximilian Schell's work- one of the greatest performances ever filmed.
The late Austrian actor Maximilian Schell first came to prominence in
Hollywood in a supporting role as Nazi Marlon Brando's superior officer
in the WWII epic THE YOUNG LIONS (1958); eventually, he became an
international film star upon winning the Best Actor Oscar for Stanley
Kramer's star-studded indictment of Nazi war crimes, JUDGMENT AT
NUREMBERG (1961) which, despite the sheer brilliance of his
performance, was a somewhat surprising accolade given that he was
competing against Paul Newman's iconic characterization of Fast Eddie
Felson in THE HUSTLER! Interestingly enough, two of Schell's future
Oscar nominations also dealt with Nazism, namely THE PEDESTRIAN (1973;
which Schell also directed) and the film under review which garnered
him his second Best Actor nod. Once again, he came against an iconic
performance Jack Nicholson's Randle P. McMurphy in ONE FLEW OVER THE
CUCKOO'S NEST but lost out to it this time around; for the record, I
have just came across the obscure GIVE'EM HELL HARRY which was the only
Best Actor (James Whitmore) nominee from that same year which was still
THE MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH is the fourth of 14 productions from The American Film Theater that I have watched following Lindsay Anderson's IN CELEBRATION (1975), Guy Green's LUTHER (1974) and Joseph Losey's GALILEO (1975) which more than anything sought to record and preserve renowned pieces of theatre that often featured notable actors. In this case, Arthur Hiller transposes Robert Shaw's play about a Jewish industrialist afflicted by the delusion of being a notorious Nazi officer; this controversial ruse undeniably elicits comparisons with THE RULING CLASS (1971) where Peter O'Toole's mad aristocrat first thinks he is Jesus Christ but then morphs into Jack The Ripper by the end of the film! Curiously enough, Shaw initially objected to Edward Anhalt's s adaptation of his material and asked to have his name removed from the film's opening credits; after watching it, however, he relented and agreed to put it back on but by then it was too late and, indeed, his name does not appear anywhere in the film's opening credits, In any case, there seems to have been no animosity between the two multi-talented actors as Schell eventually directed Shaw in END OF THE GAME (1975) and they co-starred in Shaw's untimely swan song AVALANCHE EXPRESS (1979).
Given the film's title, source of origin and subject matter, I was under the impression that the film would be entirely taken up by the trial which, when it actually comes on in the second half Is indeed riveting with concentration camp survivors brought face to face with their tormentor; members of the aggrieved public rising from their seats to beat him up following his latest animated diatribe; Schell's own doctors 'confirming' his identity until one of them (Leonard Cimino) breaks down and admits that the evidence was planted by Schell himself! In this part of the film, the presence of passionate prosecutor Lois Nettleton and sensible Magistrate Luther Adler also makes itself felt. While the film's central conceit a wealthy Jew exposed publicly as a notorious Nazi but ultimately emerging as a delusional Jew - is a fascinating one, it is quite contrived; in fact, the surprisingly fanciful first half, set atop paranoid Schell's NYC apartment, is somewhat heavy-going and even hard-to-take at times. That the film ends up being a worthy one regardless is mostly due to bald-headed, bearded and bespectacled Schell's tour-de-force performance; interestingly, despite the actor's Germanic heritage, he would again impersonate Jews in THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1980; TV) and THE CHOSEN (1981). For the record, the copy I acquired suffers from lip-sync issues that can prove distracting at first but one grows accustomed to that fault before long.
I have viewed this movie many times in a poor quality VHS and now finally
DVD. It's difficult to explain the impact this movie can have and one
viewing will not do it. It takes several viewings to really get the plot
Millionaire Jewish entrepreneur Arthur Goldman rules his financial empire
from a penthouse apartment overlooking Manhattan. Seemingly at the edge
sanity, Goldman holds forth on everyting from Papal edicts to ex-wives,
baseball to his family's massacre in a Nazi concentration camp. When
remarks on a blue Mercedes continuously parked outside his building,
Goldman's captive audience of assistant and chauffeur dismiss their boss'
anxiety as encroaching paranoia. But each of Goldman's passionate,
capricious ravings are transformed into a shocking, inadvertent
when Israeli agents capture Goldman and put him on trial as Adolph Dorf,
commandant of the concentration camp where Goldman's family was
exterminated. In a trial scene of unrelenting intensity, crafts what the
Detroit Free Press called "a white-hot lead performance," mutating from
eccentric Goldman to sociopath Dorf and beyond. The riddle of Dorf's true
identity becomes wrapped in an enigma of cunning self-treachery and
Long unavailable, it is now obtainable in DVD and holds up rivitingly well 30 years later. My wife and I first saw it in the theatre when a few of the American Film Theatre movies were produced and released--and were absolutely blown away. The movie IS Maximilian Schell. The range, nuance, and dramatic mood shifts he brings to this part, which demands polar opposite emotions, are astonishing. How he was not nominated for an Academy Award (to my knowledge) is unbelievable. His performance is what animates this complicated set of twists and turns and brings enrichment of plot turns to a well crafted story with authentic psychological resonance at the climaxe of the film. Well worth your time! It is fascinating, by the way, to pair this movie with a viewing of "Judgment at Nuremburg" in which Schell plays the defense attorney of Nazi war criminals.
I can only posit my take on the meaning of this movie based on
what was on the screen and not by what Shaw's novel put forth.
That said, I found that the meaning and subtext of this movie is
While an atheist myself, I could clearly see what would be a recasting of Christ's passion in a modern context. What "sins of the world" to be borne by a Jewish man could be more obvious than the burden of the Shoah brought upon him? I see Arthur Goldman's allusions to Jesus throughout, the references about the Catholic Church's "forgiving the Jews" for deicide, his staging of the super before knowingly putting himself in the crosshairs of the Mossad to capture him, and finally most telling... his crucifixion like pose against the inside of the booth at the end, as the magnitude of the Holocaust finally descends upon him.
Did anyone else see this powerful subtext of the movie?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Actor Robert Shaw in addition to being a great player both before the
stage lights and screen camera also wrote this unusual and challenging
play about a strange and troubled Jewish man. On Broadway it ran for
264 performances in the 1968-69 season and starred Donald Pleasence.
For the screen Maximilian Schell took over the role of Arthur Goldman,
a rich concentration camp survivor who moved to America and became a
As his friends and former wives know, Schell is probably the most anti- Semitic Jew on the planet earth, constantly making disparaging remarks about his own people. A lot of Jews who went through the Holocaust experience lost faith in the religion that did not deliver them from evil unleashed. But his remarks are really in horrible taste, yet he's rich enough that people tolerate a terrible eccentricity.
But one fine day men from Israel come and kidnap him and the next thing we know, Schell is in a glass booth in a courtroom on trial for his life. For he's being accused of taking the identity of Arthur Goldman and really being the commandant of the camp where Goldman was one of the many slaughtered. A determined prosecutor played by Lois Nettleton seems to have the goods on Schell.
Schell is defiant to the end, even insisting on wearing an S.S. uniform in court. In the end however he is humbled in the most humiliating lie of his whole life. It turns out his was a case of self hatred, he was a collaborationist Jew who the Nazis used both in camps and in city zoned ghettos to control the population.
It's impossible to discuss The Man In The Glass Booth without revealing the ending. Internalized self hate is a powerful weapon indeed used by one group of people keeping another one down. In his authorized biography Branch Rickey told a story of a black man he went to school with who could not have the athletic career he wanted up against white American prejudice and breaking down and sobbing about how cursed he was with his race.
I'm in a minority group that only in the last century found its voice and united to stop centuries old prejudice. Internalized homophobia is one of the worst things a gay person has to overcome in order to function. Until recently society just pounded how inferior we are into our every day and we had no recourse. Many opted for suicide, sadly many still do.
Schell's character is no different than many self hating gays I've known. If he was a gay man in the camp instead of a Jew he might have more willingly allowed himself to be used as a sex object. If you recall in Exodus, Sal Mineo survived in the camp by being just that, albeit an unwilling one. What do think Larry Craig or Ted Haggard might be doing in Auschwitz?
The poor soul that Schell played and I say that because he might have become wealthy, but his soul was starved indeed, was maybe someone who sold out his own people for an extra bit of ration, just trying to survive in the most horrible situation imaginable. He was filled more with shame than with hate and in the end it destroyed him.
Maximilian Schell received an Academy Award nomination for a man inside the dock as opposed to being a defense attorney for the Nazis as he was in Judgment at Nuremberg. He won his Oscar for that role, but didn't make it on this try, Schell was up against Jack Nicholson for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, a film about a different kind of psychosis.
The Man In The Glass Booth has the distinction of being the last production of that worthy endeavor called the American Film Theater which sought to bring quality work to the screen that otherwise might not be considered commercial enough for Hollywood. Why it failed ultimately is the source of lots of speculation, but it did sadly enough. Still this film was a worthy curtain call to that noble idea.
This 1975 production caught me off guard.The only reason I took it in was
because of Maximillian Schell.Well let me tell you,WOW!! I
Max was deserving of his oscar for Judgement at Nuremberg in spite of the
intense competition that year.This is a movie that starts slowly,and your
taken on a ride with Mr.Goldman,a surviving jew from the
holocaust,who,is haunted by the stigma of why he survived,and his cynical
outlook,on lack of action from the jews against the nazi inquisition,and
absence of meaningful resistance.He uses mixed metaphors
that his associates don't understand,because of his lack clearly explaining
his torment.He delivers one liners,that no one knows what he
is referring to,and keeps this a dark secret,which,he has a morbid museum that is restricted to himself only.The intellect and knowledge of this rich developer is astounding.He expresses everything in outrageous terms,which forms part of his gregarious and likeable personality.Because of the death of his father in the camps,he feels responsible,and also blames the jews themselves,for this outrage to have happened.Max was nominated for this movie,which was not well distributed,in spite of this,his performance is stunning,captivating,and intensive.His humour is chillingly funny.Max gives a whole new outlook on analysis on every conceivable subject.During the trial stage,which he perpetuated,he defends himself in a unique way.He defends his admiration of Hitler,and,his contempt for the jewish people,who went away like sheep.His impersonation of Hitler,is astonishing and riveting.He nails down the body language to a chilling crescendo.He has set himself up as a colonel from the concentration camp,to mock and persecute his fellow jews for their lack of protest.The conclusion of this work by Robert Shaw,was certainly not predictable,I will not give it away.If you like razor sharp scripts and an incredible performance by Schell,this is a must see!!This movie is not for everyone,as the plot is rather complicated,perplexing and confined to 3 sets.Arthur Hiller directed this gem with solid fortitude and conviction.It is unfortunate that the present edited copy,not widely available,was changed,because the original I viewed was flawless.Mr.Shaw who we remember as Quint,in JAWS,retracted his name from the screenplay adapted from his play,because of the editing which cut scenes which had enough change to alter the personality of Mr.Goldman.Mr.Schell's Austrian accent has limited his parts,what a shame!!This movie is very cerebral,and is not for every taste. 11 out of 10
Maximilian Schell gives a brilliant performance in this movie about a Jewish
industrialist brought to trial for Nazi war crimes. Schell was justly
nominated for an Academy Award. His ending speech about Hitler is amazing.
It's a shame that this movie is not more available.
To really appreciate Schell's performance and get the full impact of this story, it helps to have an understanding about Hitler and the theories about what motivated his actions and beliefs. Without this background this movie will come across as hopelessly contrived, but taken as an allegory about the dictator, it is extremely powerful. It is curious why Robert Shaw had his name removed from the credits.
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