"THE GLASS WALL" IS WORTH THE WHOLE PRICE OF THE COLLECTION. IT'S WONDERFUL.
And so one man, a person unwanted in America, screams his words in the empty chambers of the United Nations - demanding international justice, demanding a small opportunity for freedom. The man is "Mr. Kaban," a concentration camp survivor without a nation to belong to...so he slips without papers into a passenger ship heading for crowded New York City. When the ship docks, the uncaring Immigration Authorities don't believe his story that he saved an American parachutist in Europe - They intend to send him back to Hungary, notwithstanding his desperate plea for fair treatment after suffering under the Nazi torture machine. Denied entry, though technically qualified for entry to America, Kaban jumps overboard and plunges into a gritty, raffish, jazzy Times Square world of the early 1950's.
The film is not only about fundamental justice...but about the difference between appearances and reality, the difference between the legitimate and the illegitimate citizen, in the people we encounter in the city. Those on the very bottom rung of the economic ladder - thieves and strippers - are the ones who understand hard knocks, poverty, injustice the best, and try to give comfort to the escaped man. But the ordinary, comfortable man on the street is hard edged, indifferent, if not mean-spirited. As for the police trying to track Mr. Kaban down, the man justifiably is terrified of anyone in uniform. Years of experience teach him that uniforms mean death or imprisonment.
Not only does this film boast a lively story, but the film noir photography is sensational. It is a labor of love by the cinematographer Joseph Biroc - who obviously knows the raw edges of a confusing metropolis of darkness and bright lights.
Those willing to try this film will wonder - why, why, why has this gem been overlooked. It's just about as good a film noir as you are likely to see.