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The Pawnbroker [Blu-ray]

Geraldine Fitzgerald , Brock Peters , Sidney Lumet    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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The Pawnbroker [Blu-ray] + Sophie's Choice (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] + The Swimmer
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Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night) earned a Best Actor Oscar® nomination for his stunning performance in this powerful story of hope and empathy from celebrated director Sidney Lumet (Dog Days Afternoon). Steiger plays Sol Nazerman, a survivor of a WWII Nazi death camp where his wife, parents and children were murdered. His soul robbed of hope, he takes refuge in misery and a bitter condemnation of humanity while managing a Harlem pawnshop subjected to an endless parade of prostitutes, pimps and thieves. Jamie Sanchez (The Wild Bunch) plays Ortiz, Sol’s underprivileged and idealistic assistant who dreams of a better life. Two of the film’s best features are the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by the great Boris Kaufman (On the Waterfront) with a memorable trumpet score by the legendary Quincy Jones (The Getaway). The wonderful cast also includes Geraldine Fitzgerald (Wuthering Heights), Brock Peters (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Raymond St. Jacques (Cotton Comes to Harlem).


Based on a novel by Edward Lewis Wallant, this gritty story follows Sol (Rod Steiger in a breakout performance), a lonely camp survivor who has dealt with the destruction of his family by suppressing all emotion and cleaving to the philosophy that nothing matters except money. (His bedridden and dying friend Mendel describes him, to his face, as "the walking dead.") Sol cannot accept the friendship of his assistant, Ortiz (Jaime Sanchez), or of an equally lonely widow (Geraldine Fitzgerald). As the 25th anniversary of his wife's murder approaches, he starts to fall apart, and it becomes clear that what he really wants is to die. The film was considered shocking when first released, both because of its rawness and because of brief nudity. Time has made some of the dramatic touches seem melodramatic--especially the corny "blood on my hands!" final scene. But Steiger's performance is still remarkable, and, even after MTV, the sudden-flashback editing is a forceful technique. A high point of Sidney Lumet's career. Black and white, with lots of atmospheric trumpets by Quincy Jones. --Richard Farr --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding performance Oct. 15 2003
Rod Steiger's performance in this film is the best of his career. Period. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, 1965, and should easily have won--although he did not. In this powerful film, he plays Sol Nazerman, a seedy denizen of New York's Lower East Side who makes his living as a pawnbroker. Into his store come lowlifes of all sorts--hookers, junkies, thieves. Nazerman is a survivor of the Holocaust and carries enormous psychic scars that refuse to stop tearing at his soul.
As a vicious menacing crime figure, Brock Peters is also superb--the present-day reminder to Nazerman of how evil never dies. Other cast members include Geraldine Fitzgerald as a sympathetic caseworker and Jaime Sanchez as Nazerman's young Latino assistant who is of another generation and another culture, and cannot understand his boss' terrible anguish.
Director Sidney Lumet has done an outstanding job here conveying the lifelong suffering that horrific evil brings with it. This is not a graphic film, but one that delivers its message before the days of special effects via pure drama. It is a great thing to have this now available on DVD; this is a film that should be seen by those who treasure phenomenal acting and powerful emotion.
Very highly recommended; the best American film of 1965 and one of the best American films of the 20th century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, impassioned film Dec 3 2000
By "lazzz"
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of my favorite films. Rod Steiger, the most underrated artist alive, in my opinion, plays a Jewish pawnbroker who struggles with memories of the war, loss of his family and the apathetic shell his life has become. When he finally realizes that the people around him need his concern and without it, they can't survive, it's too late. A young Quincy Jones composed the tremendous Jazz score that gives every scene depth and punch. The film is in black and white which makes the characters seem more shady, sad and poignant. It is filmed on location in Hell's kitchen, at that time, a derelict New York neighborhood. This gives the film an atmosphere of desperation, fear, foreboding and regret. It is a sensitive, complex film that stirs the emotions on so many levels. See it if you can.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More powerful and moving than "Schindler's List" March 16 2000
Format:VHS Tape
In some ways, more powerful and moving than "Schindler's List" as it examines the holocaust's devastating impact on one survivor. Sol tries to reconcile his past with his current (and equally bleak) situation as a pawnbroker in Harlem. The movie chronicles his ongoing struggles in trying to reconnect with his emotional self. The flashback images of the Holocaust still packs a punch - the one image that sticks out for me is the scene that has the camera pan across a row of upstretched arms and hands, pressed against barbed wire as Nazi's reach across the wires and pluck the valuable rings from the victim's fingers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase

The Pawnbroker arrives on blu-ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. This transfer brings out the best of Boris Kaufman's stunning cinematography. The black and white image is bright and clear with sharp, focused edges and a fantastic amount of fine detail. That detail is present in nearly every scene, and it helps show a remarkable difference in the three stages of Sol's life. Sidney Lumet and Boris Kaufman utilize extreme close-ups quite a bit of the time, and those reveal superb fine detail. There is a high level of contrast throughout, with deep inky blacks. Grains are present. Olive Films has done a great job in this great looking transfer for a film that certainly deserves one. (4.5/5)


The Pawnbroker's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track offers a clear accounting of the dialogue, with great detail and clarity, while also playing up the fantastic score from Quincy Jones. The score is presented in a surprisingly rich and deep manner. You may recognize iconic tune Soul Bossa Nova, which is utilized as a source cue during a love scene. (4/5)


This is a very powerful movie and one of the first films to deal with the effects of Nazi Germany's concentration camps on their survivors. Sol Nazerman (Rod Steiger), operator of a pawn shop, and a concentration camp survivor faces a horrid internal conflict. Now he only cares for money and is engulfed in a New York ghetto Environment, haunted by daydreams, actually flashbacks from the period of the concentration camp. The other character in the film includes Sol’s young ambitious Latino assistant Jesus Ortez (Jaime Sanchez), whose association with local gangster Rodrigues (Brock Peters), and Sol’s attitude, ultimately led to his own tragic end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Pawnbroker: A Book That Deserves To Be Read July 22 1998
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
No question that the 1964 Rod Steiger movie version of this novel is a masterpiece in stark black & white. No less powerful is the source book's account of Sol Nazerman, who survived the Holocaust only to be living in the middle of another kind of concentration camp as a Harlem pawnbroker. The power of this book is in Wallant's consummate handling of some of the bleakest material one can imagine. It's hard to put this one down and, once read, it's hard to forget. END
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steiger Unforgetable !! March 24 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Rod Steiger delivers a superb performance as Sol Nazerman who is haunted by events of the past and disturbed by the reality of the present. Brock Peters , Juano Hernandez and Geraldine Fitzgerald are in top form. but it is Steiger who brings us to the brink..especially ... in the final sequence which packs a wallop you will not soon forget.
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