Hidden Gems: The Pawnbroker

The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

With Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters and Jaime Sanchez.

Sidney Lumet is one of my all-time favorite directors and is a master of social realism.  This film is no exception.  It’s also quite a cinematic landmark because it is the first film featuring a woman’s bare breasts to receive a Production Code Seal.  Moreover, Rod Steiger is absolutely brilliant as the Jewish pawnbroker who can’t let go of his past.

We get a lot of the quick flash-cuts back to his days of being persecuted by the Nazis, kind of like the ones we’ve seen utilized by David Fincher in Fight Club and Seven. According to some sources, these flashbacks represent some of the earliest depictions of a concentration camp in a non-documentary film.  It’s a really impactful film, and Lumet has an uncanny ability to push his actors to the limit and get the absolute best out of them.  The striking black-and-white photography reminded me a lot of some of the early European filmmakers.  The influence of realists like Jean Renoir is clearly apparent in this, and in much of Lumet’s work.

Rating: 8/10

RIYL: The Woodsman, Sophie’s Choice, The Reader.

One Response to “Hidden Gems: The Pawnbroker”
  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it and are diving deeper into Lumet’s deeper cuts. I don’t think “The Offense” is available anywhere, but that’s my favorite of his. “The Pawnbroker” is a pretty powerful movie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: