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The Pawnbroker VHS
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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Sounds and is grim but is, to me, the quintessential groundbreaker of the ultra-realistic urban life dramas that were to unfold in the latter 60's and early 70's. Rod plays his part to perfection as a lifeless, embittered old man who has seen too much in one lifetime. The aforementioned Brock Peters along with Ray St. Jacques, Jaime Sanchez (his apprentice) and others flavor this dramatic pot even more so with their poignant portrayals of their respective characters, each of whom has fallen victim to the scourges of his ghetto habitat.
I shall not offer up where and how the redemptive transformation occurs in our principal, except to say watch the entire movie and see for yourself how it all unfolds. Truly, a time-tested masterpiece!
Most recent customer reviews
this because it is so painful to watch.Read more