PAUSE IT: What do you see? Behind a wrought iron cage a man, Rod Steiger (the eponymous pawnbroker), talks on a phone in director Sidney Lumet’s The Pawnbroker (1964). There is a coldness and remove to his presentation as the intersecting metal bars have been erected seemingly to fulfill a dual purpose — to both keep us out and to keep Steiger in. In a film concerning the horrors and traumas of the Holocaust, Lumet complicates his imagery, peppering the film with repeated shots of metal fences and gates as in the bottom still taken at the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Suffering from loss and PTSD, Steiger’s character has become a loner and misanthrope, a man dissociated from both the fellowship of community and his own sense of reality.

Cast: Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters
Cinematography by: Boris Kaufman
Available from Olive Films on DVD and Blu-ray:

Pause It Archive: