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|Index||19 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.
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
The Man in The Glass Booth has finally been delivered to the home theater
the form of a DVD released by Kino as part of their series on The American
Film Theater. The DVD hits the street on Tuesday, July 22.
I have managed to catch a glimpse of this disk and the picture quality is quite good considering it is a non-restored film from 1975. No need to go into how great this flick is as it's been well documented over time.
The main character of the film is Arthur Goldman played by Maximilian
Schell, a survivor of the Holocaust and the natural guilt of surviving
such an ordeal. He is also, very proud of his accomplishments, in
becoming a millionaire in the United States, but with a streak of
sarcasm where the Jewish belief and that of the Christian belief of the
control of human destiny through these institutions is complete in its
endeavors to fulfill the reason for what man does to man and the
imminent conflict that arises form this question. His question is how
can this be, how could it happen and most important: Why it did happen?
This film gives one much to think about, especially in our times, in the late nineteenth, and twentieth century, there was a great anti-Semitist feeling that through the Nazi regime was taken to the "Final Solution" and the Holocaust of the Jews. They were singled out as the problem of the state. The state is the problem, not a group of people, this film portrays the Nazi reasoning and the Jews' incomprehension of that reason, and the hate that can be vented onto anyone. All this just to create a national feeling and then: Does not that same feeling create and maintain Israel. ("Exodus" the movie)
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