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The Pawnbroker [Blu-ray]
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The new Olive Films DVD of The Pawnbroker is a clean print with good sound, and at 116 minutes appears to be the uncut version of the film. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Old Film Lover
This black & white art film from the Sixties holds up extremely well thanks to Rod Steiger's wonderful performance and Sidney Lumet's gritty direction. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2004 by Donato
This is one of only a few films in which there are certain scenes which, for various reasons, I find almost unbearable to watch again. Read morePublished on July 2 2003 by Robert Morris
"the pawnbroker" is the best and most powerful film having to do with the holocaust that i have ever seen. Read morePublished on March 8 2002 by J from NY
This movie had a devastating effect on me when I first saw it in 1965. It has always haunted me with it's starkness and horror. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2001 by Douglas E. Pritchard