I have to say I got a kick out of the first review I read on this site, claiming the film may have once been dramatic but isn't any longer since we are overrun with illegal aliens now, and: "This is the era that Arthur Miller presented in "A View from the Bridge" about the illegal immigrants. America wasn't a tolerant nation at the time!" That review was written in 2004 and as of this writing, America again isn't very tolerant of legal or illegal immigrants with kids being kept in cages and people seeking asylum being denied.
This is a postwar film about a refugee, Peter Kuban, an escapee from a concentration camp who stows away on a ship to the U.S., only to learn he will be deported the next day as he has no right to be here. However, if he can find the GI whose life he saved during the war, thanks to a new statute, he would be able to stay. He manages to escape from the ship and goes looking for his friend.
"The Glass Wall" refers to the United Nations, and scenes there take place at the end of the film.
The best thing about this film, for a former resident of New York City anyway, is the photography by Joseph Biroc showing postwar Times Square - alive, atmospheric, exciting, before it became seedy and later Disneyland. The city takes on a life of its own here, and it's not to be missed.
The star, Vittorio Gassman, was known as the Olivier of Italy, an incredibly handsome actor with a fabulous voice who acted in classic plays and even in an Italian translation of Streetcar Named Desire, as well as the founder of a renowned acting school. Apparently when he made this film his big claim to fame was being married to Shelley Winters, whose name apparently appears in the trailer as a way of introducing him. Didn't see it, wish I could!
He costars here with Gloria Grahame, who is terrific as a down and out woman who takes pity on Peter. Character actress Robin Raymond has a nice turn as another woman who tries to help him - with his looks, it's not hard to see why.
I suppose by today's standards a little melodramatic, but poignant, and I'm sure when it was released it did resonate, with the arrival of many displaced persons. Hello, they're still arriving.
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