The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

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Metropolisforever_2

The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#1 Post by Metropolisforever_2 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 1:48 pm

Here's the thing about The Pawnbroker: many have claimed that the DVD is pan-and-scan. It isn't. This film was intentionally shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This "squeezed" look helps viewers feel how Sol is "trapped". A pretty clever decision on Lumet's part. I can't even imagine this film being in widescreen.

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dx23
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:52 pm
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Re: What bad DVD features annoy you the most?

#2 Post by dx23 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:48 pm

Metropolisforever_2 wrote:Here's the thing about The Pawnbroker: many have claimed that the DVD is pan-and-scan. It isn't. This film was intentionally shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This "squeezed" look helps viewers feel how Sol is "trapped". A pretty clever decision on Lumet's part. I can't even imagine this film being in widescreen.
Who are the many you are talking about? I don't see anyone disputing that this wasn't film 1.33:1.

Metropolisforever_2

Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#3 Post by Metropolisforever_2 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:58 pm

That opening post was for another thread. A mod moved it.

I was actually afraid to give this film its own thread (because I was afraid the mods would lock/move/delete it), and I was thinking of a good way to open it. I could have written a much better and more appropriate opening post.

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#4 Post by Dylan » Wed Feb 11, 2009 2:14 pm

Metropolisforever_2 wrote:Here's the thing about The Pawnbroker: many have claimed that the DVD is pan-and-scan. It isn't. This film was intentionally shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This "squeezed" look helps viewers feel how Sol is "trapped". A pretty clever decision on Lumet's part. I can't even imagine this film being in widescreen.
I've only seen the film once, but I don't remember this. The film looks gorgeous, at times almost like an early sixties Antonioni film. Do you have a reference regarding Lumet's "decision" to shoot the film as you described, or information regarding the kind of lenses used by DP Boris Kaufman?
I could have written a much better and more appropriate opening post.
It's been many years, but I do remember this being a wonderful film, and one I've been meaning to revisit for a long time. Rod Steiger is giving his greatest performance, and it has a fabulous Quincy Jones score (I have it on disc - a combination of beautiful, melodic orchestral score, pop source and hot jazz).

Metropolisforever_2

Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#5 Post by Metropolisforever_2 » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:45 pm

Well, IMDb says that the Original Aspect Ratio is 1.33:1. I know they can be very inaccurate, but not usually when it comes to aspect ratio stuff.

Anyways, what a film! As a person who has been disappointed by almost every "great" film they've seen, I was very engaged and moved by this. I hear of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver being a masterpiece of character study. Maybe to some people it is, but nothing can compare to Sidney Lumet's masterpiece.

This film deals with the Holocaust with subtlety and realism. There is no Hollywood psuedo-sentimentality like you'd see in a Spielberg film. There is just this man, who, despite his coldness, we feel sympathy for. We watch as he tries to interact with other people, only to end up hurting everyone around him. We see how his classification of all people as "scum" is just as bad as the Nazi ideology.

I especially loved the poetic, heartbreaking, but possibly hopeful ending.

It's too bad Hollywood doesn't make films like this anymore. Nowadays, we get manufactured junk like "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" every year, but we never get filmmaking as honest, open, and daring as this was.

All Movie Guide rating: Image

TV Guide rating: ImageImageImageImage

ReelzChannel rating: 10

Leonard Maltin rating: ****

VideoHound rating: 3½ bones

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Dylan
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:28 pm

Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#6 Post by Dylan » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:26 pm

Well, IMDb says that the Original Aspect Ratio is 1.33:1. I know they can be very inaccurate, but not usually when it comes to aspect ratio stuff.
It's definitely open matte. I have no documents at my disposal to give any indication that it was shown in 1.66 or 1.85 theatrically, but it's possible. It'd be nice to have an updated DVD release of this, in any case. It's one of the great mid-sixties Hollywood films.
I hear of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver being a masterpiece of character study. Maybe to some people it is, but nothing can compare to Sidney Lumet's masterpiece.
Yes, but the motivations of Sol and Travis Bickle couldn't be more dichotomous. Both films have great scores, though.

Here is a glimpse of Lumet and DP Boris Kaufman's Antonionian imagery for The Pawnbroker:

Image

Swallowed by architecture.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#7 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:44 pm

It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, and-- though I sometimes have problems with Rod Steiger (a messy load of grief in him leading to weird quirks, both sublime and downright goofball)-- remember liking it quite a bit. I pass the old shop location at 116th & Park at least once a week when I transfer from the M116 bus a stop early (near Madison) to have enough wak-time to to smoke a cig before making the Lex subway at 116 and Lex. Another scene shot right near that Park Av Amtrak el is Carlito' Way (I love this film), when Carlito meets with his old partner and tells him that he's done selling dope... and his old partner laughs ("Retired? So Carlito Brigante got religion.." "Thaaat's right... I'm studying to be a priest."). Also the barber shop that Carlito's little cousin takes him to-- El Watusi (great song) by Hard Hands Barretto playing on the stereo-- that turns out to be a setup, with Carlito wasting everybody inside... that's also near this intersection of 116th & Park. The heart of the old Barrio.

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Taketori Washizu
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#8 Post by Taketori Washizu » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:12 pm

Not a false note in this film. Certainly Steiger's finest hour, and probably Lumet's best with Dog Day Afternoon, Network and The Verdict to seriously compete with.

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Polybius
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#9 Post by Polybius » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:26 am

A couple of nice supporting performances from Brock Peters and Juano Hernandez.

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flyonthewall2983
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#10 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:53 pm

I remember watching it on TCM a few years ago, as part of a double-header with Network. I'll chime in with what's already been said, that it's a marvelous film and a revelatory performance by Rod.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#11 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:01 pm

One of Steiger's greatest onscreen moments. SLightly over the top, but Lumet's subtle camera movements are absolutely beautiful in this scene.

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Cold Bishop
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#12 Post by Cold Bishop » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:14 pm

The real clincher is Steiger's self-mutilation and silent scream at the end. If I ever became an actor, I planned on ripping off that scream.

There's a connection the film draws between homosexuality and criminality which is definitely dated nowadays, and the film spends so much time in the pawnshop I was shocked to find it was based off a novel and not a play, but otherwise, its a great film. Definitely a warning shot for what was to come to Hollywood in the 1970s.

Then there's of course the milestone the film created in including nudity, one of the many things that helped bring to Code to its death.

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MyFathersSon
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#13 Post by MyFathersSon » Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:54 pm

Dylan wrote:...It'd be nice to have an updated [...] release...
What should the aspect ratio be?

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Jeff
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:49 pm
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Re: The Pawnbroker (Sidney Lumet, 1964)

#14 Post by Jeff » Sun Jul 14, 2013 12:12 pm

MyFathersSon wrote:What should the aspect ratio be?
It was almost certainly intended to be matted to 1.85 or 1.66. At the time it was made, I think AIP would have been releasing most of their films in 1.85. The original poster in this thread clearly didn't know what he was talking about:
Metropolisforever_2 wrote:Here's the thing about The Pawnbroker: many have claimed that the DVD is pan-and-scan. It isn't. This film was intentionally shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This "squeezed" look helps viewers feel how Sol is "trapped". A pretty clever decision on Lumet's part. I can't even imagine this film being in widescreen.
The DVD was, of course not "pan and scan," it was open matte. The film is shot within a 1.33 frame (like the vast majority of all films), with the intention of matting out the top and bottom during projection to create a wider ratio.

His assertion (which he apparently just made up) that Lumet shot in 1.33, creating a "'squeezed' look [to help] viewers feel how Sol is "trapped'," doesn't make any sense. Matting the film down to 1.66 or 1.85 would make Sol seem more "squeezed" and "trapped" if that's what Lumet was going for. There would be less space and headroom around him. The original poster seemed to be under the impression that if the film was released in "widescreen" it would somehow add more information to the sides, which isn't at all true since it clearly wasn't shot with anamorphic lenses.

At any rate, his source for the 1.33 information turned out to be IMDb, which now lists the correct aspect ratio as 1.85. Go figure.

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