6.8/10
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19 user 10 critic

The Glass Wall (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 July 1953 (Finland)
Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to ... See full summary »

Director:

Maxwell Shane

Writers:

Ivan Tors (screenplay), Maxwell Shane (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Peter Kaban
Gloria Grahame ... Maggie Summers
Ann Robinson ... Nancy
Douglas Spencer ... Inspector Bailey
Robin Raymond ... Tanya aka Bella Zakoyla
Jerry Paris ... Tom
Elizabeth Slifer Elizabeth Slifer ... Mrs. Hinckley - Landlady
Richard Reeves ... Eddie Hinckley
Joe Turkel ... Freddie Zakoyla (as Joseph Turkel)
Else Bäck Else Bäck ... Mrs. Zakoyla (as Else Neft)
Michael Fox ... Inspector Toomey / Narrator
Nesdon Booth Nesdon Booth ... Monroe - Taxi Driver (as Ned Booth)
Kathleen Freeman ... Zelda - Fat Woman
Juney Ellis Juney Ellis ... Girl friend
Jack Teagarden ... Musician
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Storyline

Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie, a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Shorty Rogers and his band and trombonist Jack Teagarden are playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla, takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE 10-HOUR MANHUNT...that tore New York apart!

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1953 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Die gläserne Mauer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Along with Jack Teagarden (trombone) in the nightclub sequence, in the band Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone) on the far left and Shelly Manne (drums) can be seen. Shorty Rogers (trumpet) is leading the band. He and Bob Keene (clarinet) supply off camera solos for the actors. See more »

Goofs

During his first solo, trombonist Jack Teagarden's hand movements don't match the music on the soundtrack. See more »

Quotes

Peter Kaban: Tell me. Is there not work for everyone here in America?
Maggie Summers: Almost everyone.
Peter Kaban: So, how it happens that a girl like you steals a coat?
Maggie Summers: I don't know. I was cold. I needed a coat.
[She thinks]
Maggie Summers: More than that, I was fed up, I guess.
[She stands up]
Maggie Summers: Did you ever put tips on shoe laces?
Peter Kaban: Tip on shoelaces?
Maggie Summers: Yeah. That's what I did for two years.
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Red Mountain (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A vividly raffish New York City comes to life in Maxwell Shane's overlooked message movie
28 February 2004 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

A pungent period flavor of post-war New York elevates Maxwell Shane's The Glass Wall. If it's not quite noir (its idealism disqualifies it), it sure looks and feels like noir. As well it should, coming from the writer/director of those unambiguous noirs Fear in the Night (1947) and its remake Nightmare (1956).

In his first American film, Vittorio Gassman plays a stateless stowaway who's caught before his ship sails into New York harbor. Detained by immigration authorities, who won't believe his story that he qualifies for special consideration for aiding the Allies during the war, he's due to be returned to Trieste and certain death. But he jumps from the deck onto the docks, smashing his ribs, and starts stumbling around the city looking for the G.I. who can vouch for him (Jerry Paris). All Gassman knows is Paris' first name, and that he plays clarinet somewhere near Times Square (when we catch up with Paris, he's auditioning for Jack Teagarden's band).

During his nocturnal search, he runs into Gloria Grahame, who's very down on her luck. A sharp little minx who used to affix the tips to shoelaces for a living, now she steals coats from Automats (it's one of her more captivating performances). Grahame's at first wary of Gassman but quickly won over – his tale of woe makes her troubles look paltry, and he's the first guy to treat her decently. So she lets him hide out in her garret room (his escape makes the front pages) and helps him search for his old pal.

There's a beat-the-clock element that keeps the story moving: Gassman doesn't know that Paris has seen the tabloids and will vouch for him – or that his options will expire at dawn. And Shane stews the path with obstacles as well as with good Samaritans (Robin Raymond as a stripper with a heart of gold – another `Hunkie' – touchingly among them).

As the sky lightens, the desperate Gassman reaches the place he thinks will be his salvation: The forbidding `glass wall' of Wallace K. Harrison's just-completed United Nations Headquarters. But the building's empty of all but janitors, and Gassman still doesn't know that he's still safe....

The Glass Wall's a modest movie that overcomes the handicaps of its dated and idealistic `message' to succeed as a well told and acted human interest story. But it triumphs in its presentation of mid-20th-century Manhattan, as vividly raffish as in any movie of its period.


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