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August 11, 2020 | Rome, Italy

The Pawnbroker

By | 2018-03-21T18:23:52+01:00 May 1st, 2008|Reviews|

3

Date: 1964

Director: Sidney Lumet

Starring: Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters, Thelma Oliver, Jaime Sanchez

Sidney Lumet merged two themes, Holocaust guilt and ghetto awareness, in this flawed Euro-American story that highlighted Rod Steiger’s virtuosity. He is Nazi death camp survivor Sol Nazerman, a Harlem pawnbroker whose latter-day woes ignite bad memories. But this is hardly about a man slipping from newfound grace or revisiting unspeakable hardship. Nazerman is fully shaped: an acidic, bitter, biased, a blemished creature with a rant for a soul.

Lumet is less concerned with conventional narrative than delivering a series of daguerreotype that illustrate bias and opportunism in a man who can no longer tell the difference between past and present. Steiger’s genius is in the jittery way he comes to collapse. Annoying flashbacks aside (early jump-cut editing), you feel Nazerman’s walls closing in. Worth it for Steiger alone.

About the Author:

Marcia Yarrow
A military brat, Marcia Yarrow was born in Hamburg, Germany but grew up in Germany, Spain, and Provo, Utah. She's been writing for the magazine since its creation in 2004.

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