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The Pawnbroker [Import]

Rod Steiger , Geraldine Fitzgerald , Sidney Lumet    Unrated   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 61.05
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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

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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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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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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
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. However, there are no extras, and the scene menu is very scanty. The movie itself arguably rates more than 4 out of 5, but this minimal DVD edition gets only a 4 out of 5. However, the price is right, and I recommend grabbing this new edition before it goes out of print.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rod Steiger's best work. Jan. 10 2004
By Donato
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. The film, not to mention the novel it was based upon, is one of my favorites because it captures graphically the way the main character's memories of the Holocaust hold him prisoner years later as a Harlem pawnbroker. With his life long ago drained of joy and feeling, he is at once the victim of his pawnshop and life, and the businessman who's lost the ability to empathize with his poor and victimized (but often amazingly hopeful) customers. Add to the drama an urban jazz score by Quincy Jones and you have a picture that belongs in any serious film lover's collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sounds of Silence July 2 2003
Format:VHS Tape
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. The others include the scene at the train station when Sophie must make her choice, the sequence of murders in In Cold Blood, the burning of the church in The Patriot, the multiple hangings in The Ox-Bow Incident, and the evisceration of William Wallace in Braveheart.
Brilliantly directed by Sidney Lumet, with equally brilliant cinematography by Boris Kaufman (both of whom should have at least been nominated for an Academy Award), this is among the first films to dramatize with high levels of seriousness and sensitivity the essential evil of the Holocaust. Sol Nazerman is the central character, played by Rod Steiger who was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor. Lee Marvin received that award for his role in Cat Ballou. (I thoroughly enjoyed Marvin's performance but still think Steiger deserved the award. To his credit, so did Marvin and said so.) Nazerman is a pawnbroker in New York City, having long ago lost (or so it seems) his ability to have an feelings for anyone else...or even for himself. His mind may be especially alert but his heart is numb.
In terms of plot, not much happens. Most of the the film focuses is on Nazerman's dysfunctional interactions with other people, notably with Marilyn Birchfield (played by Geraldine Fitzgerald) and Jose Ortiz (Jaime Sanchez) who works for Nazerman. What's Nazerman's problem? With meticulous care, Lumet gradually reveals the past from which he emerged but, in certain respects, from which he has not survived. His "problem" is that he has lost his will to live but not to exist.
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