7.7/10
7,619
80 user 57 critic

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.

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writers:

Morton S. Fine (screenplay) (as Morton Fine), David Friedkin (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:
Rod Steiger ... Sol Nazerman
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Marilyn Birchfield
Brock Peters ... Rodriguez
Jaime Sánchez ... Jesus Ortiz (as Jaime Sanchez)
Thelma Oliver Thelma Oliver ... Ortiz' Girl
Marketa Kimbrell ... Tessie
Baruch Lumet ... Mendel
Juano Hernandez ... Mr. Smith
Linda Geiser ... Ruth Nazerman
Nancy R. Pollock Nancy R. Pollock ... Bertha
Raymond St. Jacques ... Tangee
John McCurry John McCurry ... Buck
Charles Dierkop ... 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

Taglines:

The Most Talked About Picture! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | German

Release Date:

20 April 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Pawnbroker See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$930,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sidney Lumet had originally ruled out Rod Steiger in the lead role, considering him too intense for the part. He was pleasantly surprised when, in conversation with Steiger, the actor agreed that the role needed to be seriously underplayed. See more »

Goofs

Quantity and location of blood on the lip is inconsistent. 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.
See more »

Connections

References The L-Shaped Room (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

I Don't Wanna Be a Loser
(uncredited)
Written by Ben Raleigh and Mark Barkan
Performed by Lesley Gore
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Never has internal pain been so vividly portrayed.
1 January 2004 | by wisewebwomanSee all my reviews

This is in my 50 best movies of all time list.

Rod Steiger,a gifted actor, is at his very best here portraying Sol Nazerman, a pawnbroker who is completely shut down emotionally.

Through flashbacks, some fast, mostly slow, we see both the joy and subsequent horror of Sol's life in Nazi Germany, when his wife and children are swept into the camps and killed. Sol's deepest pain is that he survived and he carries it visibly. Nothing touches him. He is removed from humanity, living a life outside anyone else's.

This is never more exemplified than at his shop, where he is behind bars, often in shadow, while humanity moves outside, sometimes pleading with him, sometimes just wishing to make an emotional contact to no avail.

Brilliant black and white photography. Quincy Jones' music underscores this, it is jazzy 60s type of music, loud and vibrant, totally contrasting with the dark, dead world of Sol.

The supporting cast are terrific and the outdoor location shooting in New York is riveting. The movement of street life against the heaviness of Sol's plodding.

I still find it hard to believe that Rod lost the Oscar to Lee Marvin in the forgettable "Cat Ballou" (!!) that year.

This has to be seen by any serious lovers of movies. The last scene, done in one continuous take is heartbreaking, Sol finally getting in touch with the pain he has buried so deeply. Gut wrenching stuff. 9 out of 10.


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