Morton S. Fine
|Based on||The Pawnbroker|
by Edward Lewis Wallant
|Produced by||Philip Langner|
|Edited by||Ralph Rosenblum|
|Music by||Quincy Jones|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Box office||$2.5 million (US rentals), over $4 million global|
The Pawnbroker is a 1964 American
The film was the first produced entirely in the United States to deal with
Twenty-five years later, Nazerman is haunted by his memories. He operates a
Nazerman is idolized by Jesus Ortiz, an ambitious young
Ortiz's girlfriend tries to pawn jewelry to help fund his plan to open a shop; she offers her body to Nazerman to make more money, but he rejects her. When she tells him she works for Rodriguez, he realizes that Rodriguez owes much of his wealth to the
During the attempted robbery by Tangee's gang, Nazerman refuses to hand over his money. A member of the gang pulls a gun and, in trying to save Nazerman, Ortiz is shot. The gang flees and Ortiz drags himself out onto the street. Nazerman stumbles out of his shop and silently sobs while Ortiz dies. Ortiz's body is taken away by ambulance and Nazerman goes back inside. He impales his hand on a receipt spike before wandering away from the shop, presumably for the last time.
- Rod Steiger – Sol Nazerman
- Geraldine Fitzgerald – Marilyn Birchfield
- Brock Peters – Rodriguez
- Jaime Sánchez – Jesus Ortiz
- Thelma Oliver– Ortiz's girl
- Eusebia Cosme - Mrs. Ortiz (Jesus' mother)
- Marketa Kimbrell – Tessie
- Baruch Lumet – Mendel
- Juano Hernández– Mr. Smith
- Linda Geiser – Ruth Nazerman
- Nancy R. Pollock – Bertha
- Raymond St. Jacques – Tangee
- Charles Dierkop - Robinson
- Morgan Freeman – Man on Street (uncredited)
The Pawnbroker tells the story of a man whose spiritual "death" in the concentration camps causes him to bury himself in the most dismal location that he can find: a slum in upper
The film used
New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote that Sol Nazerman "is very much a person of today—a survivor of Nazi persecution who has become detached and remote in the modern world—he casts, as it were, the somber shadow of the legendary, ageless Wandering Jew. That is the mythical Judean who taunted Jesus on the way to Calvary and was condemned to roam the world a lonely outcast until Jesus should come again."
Directors Stanley Kubrick, Karel Reisz and Franco Zeffirelli turned down the project. Kubrick said he thought Steiger was not "all that exciting." Reisz, whose parents were murdered in the Holocaust, said that for "deep, personal" reasons he "could not objectively associate himself with any subject which has a background of concentration camps." Zeffirelli, then a stage director, was anxious to direct a film, but said that The Pawnbroker was "not the kind of subject [he] would wish to direct, certainly not as his first Anglo-American venture."
Steiger became involved in the project in 1962, a year after the Wallant novel was published, and was involved in an early reworking of the film's script. He received $50,000 for his performance, far lower than his usual rate, because he trusted Lumet, with whom he had worked on television in the series You Are There.
Lumet, who took over the film after Arthur Hiller was fired, initially had misgivings about Steiger being cast in the lead role. He felt that Steiger "was a rather tasteless actor—awfully talented, but completely tasteless in his choices." Lumet preferred James Mason for the role, and the comedian Groucho Marx was among the performers who had wanted to play Nazerman. However, Steiger pleasantly surprised Lumet when he agreed with him during rehearsals on the repression of the character's feelings. Lumet felt that ultimately Steiger "worked out fine."
In a 1999 television interview,
The film was shot in New York City, mainly on location and with minimal sets, in the fall of 1963.
Post-production and release
The film premiered in June 1964 at the Berlin International Film Festival, and was released in the United States in April 1965.
Finding a major U.S. distributor for the film proved difficult because of its nudity and grim subject matter.
Production Code controversy
The film was controversial on initial release for depicting
The scenes resulted in conflict with the
The film, and Steiger's performance in particular, was greeted by widespread critical acclaim. Life magazine praised Steiger's "endless versatility." Brendan Gill wrote in The New Yorker: "By a magic more mysterious. . . than his always clever makeup, he manages to convince me at once that he is whoever he pretends to be."
One negative review came from Pauline Kael, who called it "trite", but said: "You can see the big pushes for powerful effects, yet it isn't negligible. It wrenches audiences, making them fear that they, too, could become like this man. And when events strip off his armor, he doesn't discover a new, warm humanity, he discovers sharper suffering—just what his armor had protected him from. Most of the intensity comes from Steiger's performance."
Some Jewish groups urged a boycott of the film, in the view that its presentation of a Jewish pawnbroker encouraged
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards||Best Actor||Rod Steiger||Nominated|||
|Berlin International Film Festival||Golden Bear||Sidney Lumet||Nominated|||
|Best Actor||Rod Steiger||Won|
|FIPRESCI Award – Honorable Mention||Sidney Lumet||Won|
|Bodil Awards||Best Non-European Film||Won|||
|British Academy Film Awards||Best Foreign Actor||Rod Steiger||Won|| |
|United Nations Award||Sidney Lumet||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||Nominated|||
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama||Rod Steiger||Nominated|||
|Laurel Awards||Top Drama||4th Place|
|Top Male Dramatic Performance||Rod Steiger||Nominated|
|National Film Preservation Board||National Film Registry||Inducted|||
|New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Film||Nominated|||
|Best Actor||Rod Steiger||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Best Written American Drama||
Morton S. Fine and David Friedkin
The film has become known as the first major American film that even tried to recreate the horrors of the camps of the Jewish
Its display of nudity, despite Production Code prohibitions on the practice at the time, is also viewed as a landmark in motion pictures. The Pawnbroker was the first film featuring bare breasts to receive Production Code approval. In his 2008 study of films during that era, Pictures at a Revolution, author Mark Harris wrote that the MPAA's action was "the first of a series of injuries to the Production Code that would prove fatal within three years." The Code was abolished in 1968 in favor of a voluntary ratings system.
Musical score and soundtrack
|Soundtrack album by|
|Recorded||February 20, 1965|
MG 21011/SR 61011
|Quincy Jones chronology|
The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones, and the soundtrack album was released on the Mercury label in 1965. Initially, Lumet planned to hire John Lewis, the musical director of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Rosenblum, the film's editor, complained to Lumet that Lewis' music was "too cerebral" and suggested Jones instead—a suggestion Lumet accepted.
All compositions by Quincy Jones
- "Theme from The Pawnbroker" (Lyrics by Jack Lawrence) − 3:07
- "Main Title" − 3:42
- "Harlem Drive" − 1:56
- "The Naked Truth" − 4:08
- "Ortiz' Night Off" − 5:00
- "Theme from The Pawnbroker (Instrumental Version)" − 4:07
- "How Come, You People!" − 2:57
- "Rack 'Em Up" − 2:40
- "Death Scene" − 5:04
- "End Title" − 3:04
- "Theme from the Pawnbroker" − 2:38 Additional track on CD reissue
- Orchestra arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones featuring:
- Freddie Hubbard, Bill Berry, trumpets
- J.J. Johnson, trombone
- Anthony Ortega, soprano sax; Oliver Nelson, alto sax, tenor sax; Jerry Dodgion, alto sax
- Toots Thielemans, harmonica
- Bobby Scott,piano, tracks 1-10
- Don Elliott, vibraphone
- Dave Grusin, piano
- Dennis Budimir, guitar
- Carol Kaye, electric bass
- Tony Williams, Bob Cranshaw, Art Davis, acoustic double bass
- Elvin Jones, drums
- Ed Shaughnessy, percussion
- The Don Elliott Voices, vocal.
- Marc Allen (track 1)
- Sarah Vaughan (track 11) − vocals
- Rod Steiger - dialogue (track 7)
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Top Grossers of 1965", Variety, January 5, 1966 p 36
- Gates, Anita (April 5, 2005). "Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and The Holocaust". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- Stafford, Jeff. "The Pawnbroker: Overview Article". TCM.com. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- "Cinematic Classics, Legendary Stars, Comedic Legends and Novice Filmmakers Showcase the 2008 Film Registry". Library of Congress. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- Archer, Eugene (November 3, 1963). "As Crowds Watch, 'The Pawnbroker' Goes Into Business in Spanish Harlem". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- Crowther, Bosley (April 21, 1965). "The Pawnbroker". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- Byron, Stuart (August 9, 1967). "Homo Theme 'Breakthrough'". Variety. p. 7.
- "Release Dates for The Pawnbroker". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 8, 2009.
- "The 38th Academy Awards (1966) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Berlinale 1964: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
- "1966". Bodilprisen (in Danish). October 19, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
- Severo, Richard (July 10, 2002). "Rod Steiger, Oscar-Winning Character Actor, Dies at 77". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2009.
- "18th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- "1965 New York Film Critics Circle Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
- "Awards Winners". Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on December 5, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
- Levesque, John. "IFC's chat show 'Dinner for Five' worth booking -- with reservations". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
- "Dinner For Five S01E04 - Ron Livingston, Kevin Pollak, Sarah Silverman, Rod Steiger". YouTube. July 16, 2012. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013.
- Soundtrack Collector: album entry accessed January 17, 2018
- Mercury 20000 Series B (61000-61099) discography, accessed January 17, 2018
- "The Pawnbroker". Library of Congress.
- "The Pawnbroker". Library of Congress. Retrieved August 23, 2018. (from Meeker, David Jazz on Screen)
- The Pawnbroker essay  by Annette Insdorf on the National Film Registry website
- The Pawnbroker at IMDb
- The Pawnbroker at the TCM Movie Database
- The Pawnbroker at AllMovie
- The Pawnbroker at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Representation of Trauma and Memory in The Pawnbroker by Peter Wilshire
- The Pawnbroker essay by Daniel Eagan in America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, A&C Black, 2010