From The Pawnbroker (1964):
I guess I should object to Sol Nazerman’s assertion that the Jews don’t have a land myth; on the contrary, at 3800 years old, Zionism takes the cake for the most enduring land myth in history.
Otherwise, several things stand out:
- Sidney Lumet made this movie in 1964. I’m guessing that the image of a Jew operating a small independent shop in an inner city neighborhood resonated with audiences back then in a way that it doesn’t today. Besides the fact that Gentiles are today actively discouraged from thinking of Jews at all except as yet another victim class, most Jews today have evolved beyond the “middleman minority” role.
- As Andrew Young got himself fired for pointing out, Jewish shopkeepers were replaced in the inner city by Koreans, who were themselves replaced by Persians and Arabs. Their experiences have much in common with one another: a high degree of frugality; cultural insularity; and strained relations with the surrounding community.
- Sidney Lumet gives us an unromantic view of the inner city that has more in common with The Wire than with media portrayals of “the black experience” in most of the intervening period. It shows, not just crime, but a wide range of dysfunction including prostitution and drug addiction. But this dysfunction, or the perception of it, is behind the negative views that middleman minorities have of most of their customers.
- I was surprised to find nudity in this film. The MPAA rating system wouldn’t be introduced until 1968, and the Hays Code was still in effect. Can anybody think of instances of other mainstream films from this area that show a woman’s breasts?
Tech bleg: I had no sooner uploaded this movie to YouTube when I received an email:
Your video, The Pawnbroker (1964) - Secrets of Success, may have content that is owned or licensed by UMG.
Wow! How did YouTube figure this out so fast? Could material copied from a DVD, decrypted, and edited in Windows Live Movie Maker still have metadata that would identify its origins? Because it boggles the mind that YouTube has a computer that can recognize a particular movie scene.