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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
**SPOILERS** Owning a pawnshop in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem Sol Nazerman, Rod Stiger,tries to cut himself off from any human feelings that he still has left by buying and selling the hopes and dreams, for a few dollars on the buy side and five to ten times as much on the sell side, of the people of the neighborhood that he does business with.
Sol's hopes and dreams were destroyed some twenty five years ago in German occupied Poland. It's there where he lost his entire family in the Nazi concentration camps. As the 25th anniversary of that nightmare approaches Sol starts to get flooded with shocking flashbacks of what happened to him his wife and two children back then and goes as far as trying to stop the clock,or calender, to keep that dreadful anniversary from coming.
Sol's past WWII nightmare in Poland becomes a real and new nightmare now in the New York City of 1964 that meshes together and in the end shocks him back to the reality of being a person with feelings for others as well as himself.
Sol's helper at the pawnshop Jesus Ortiz, Jamie Sanchez, sees a man give Sol an envelop with some $5,000.00 in cash that Sol puts away in his safe. Ortiz thinking that thats the kind of money to be made running a pawnshop wants Sol to tell him all he knows about the business so that he could go into the pawn business himself. What Ortiz didn't realize was that the man who gave Sol the money was Saverese, Warren Finnerty, a bag man for the top crime boss in Harlem Rodriguez ,Brock Peters, who's using Sol's pawnshop to launder his dirty and ill gotten gains.
This set the stage for Ortiz to get involved in a robbery of Sol's store with three of his friends in the neighborhood Tangee Buck & Robinson, Raymond St.Jacques John McCurry & Charles Dierkop. In the end the robbery would result in Ortiz's death and Sol's regaining his humanity by getting his feelings for his fellow man, and woman, as well as himself back but at a shocking and heart crunching cost.
Undoubtedly Rod Stigers best movie performance as concentration camp survivor Sol Nazerman who after trying to suppress his feelings for years has them burst open like a long inactive volcano at the end of the movie.
The movie "The Pawnbroker" covers the days that lead up to Sol's finding out that keeping deep inside all the hurt and suffering from the past will only make him and those around him only more depressed and not allow those wounds of past years to heal. Sol's sees later in the movie how his actions hurt people that tried to be friendly and help him like his new neighbor Marilyn Brichfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald, who tried to strike up a friendship with him. Marilyn was a lonely middle-aged women who lost her husband at an early age.
Sol's most hurtful act was that what he did to his second wife Tessie ,Marketa Kimberell, who's also a concentration camp survivor. After Tessie called him at the pawnshop with the news that her father Mendel, Baruch Lumet, just passed away Sol coldly told her to bury him and hung up.
Sol's relations with Rodiguez was also a bit odd. How could he have not known that Rodriguez owned the whorehouse down the block from his pawnshop when he confronted him at his penthouse about the dirty dealings that he was doing in the neighborhood? Since we know that Sol himself was involved with them by laundering Rodiguez's dirty money and taking a cut for himself all these years?
"The Pawnbroker" is a dark haunting and surrealistic film that hits all the right buttons in it's story about the human condition thats so skillfully played by it's leading actor Rod Stiger. A story of the loneliness and emptiness of the human heart which can only go on for so long until, like in the movie, it either breaks down or bursts open and explodes from the pressure thats been built up in it over the years.
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