Lilas Hans

Lilas Hans

Published: 06 Oct 2023


The Pawnbroker is a compelling and thought-provoking film that has left a lasting impact on audiences since its release. Directed by Sidney Lumet and released in 1964, the movie tells the story of Sol Nazerman, a Holocaust survivor who runs a pawnshop in Harlem. As one of the first mainstream films to tackle the aftermath of the Holocaust, The Pawnbroker delves deep into themes of trauma, guilt, and redemption.

With its powerful performances, innovative cinematography, and challenging subject matter, The Pawnbroker has become a classic in the world of cinema. In this article, we will explore 30 fascinating facts about this iconic film, shedding light on its production, reception, and behind-the-scenes stories. So, grab your popcorn and get ready to dive into the world of The Pawnbroker!

Table of Contents

The Pawnbroker is a film adaptation.

“The Pawnbroker” is based on a novel of the same name written by Edward Lewis Wallant, which was published in 1961.

Sidney Lumet directed the film.

The acclaimed director Sidney Lumet took the helm of this captivating movie. Lumet was known for his ability to bring intense and emotionally charged stories to life on the big screen.

The movie stars Rod Steiger.

The lead role of Sol Nazerman is played by the talented actor Rod Steiger, who delivers a powerful and unforgettable performance.

It explores the Holocaust’s impact.

“The Pawnbroker” delves into the devastating aftermath of the Holocaust and its profound impact on the main character, Sol Nazerman.

The film tackles themes of trauma and survivor’s guilt.

One of the central themes of “The Pawnbroker” is the psychological trauma and survivor’s guilt experienced by Sol Nazerman, who lost his family during the Holocaust.

“The Pawnbroker” was groundbreaking for its time.

The film received critical acclaim for its realistic depiction of sensitive topics and its willingness to push boundaries in the portrayal of wartime trauma.

Quincy Jones composed the score.

The haunting and evocative musical score for “The Pawnbroker” was composed by the legendary Quincy Jones, adding an extra layer of emotion to the film.

The movie employs flashbacks to tell the story.

Through the use of flashbacks, “The Pawnbroker” intertwines the present-day struggles of Sol Nazerman with his haunting past experiences.

The film was controversial upon its release.

Due to its explicit content and unflinching portrayal of the Holocaust, “The Pawnbroker” faced controversy and censorship in certain countries.

It was one of the first American movies to feature female nudity.

“The Pawnbroker” broke new ground by including a scene with brief female nudity, which was considered groundbreaking for American cinema at the time.

The film showcases New York City.

“The Pawnbroker” is set in the bustling city of New York, with its gritty streets and diverse neighborhoods becoming an integral part of the story.

The cinematography is visually striking.

The film’s cinematography, under the guidance of Boris Kaufman, captures the stark contrast between the harsh realities faced by Sol Nazerman and the vibrant city around him.

“The Pawnbroker” received three Academy Award nominations.

The film was recognized for its excellence and received nominations for Best Actor (Rod Steiger), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Art Direction.

It was considered controversial due to its portrayal of sexuality.

“The Pawnbroker” challenged societal norms by addressing sexuality and desire, which was often considered taboo in the 1960s.

The movie went through censorship challenges.

Due to its explicit content and sensitive subject matter, “The Pawnbroker” faced multiple challenges from censorship boards across different regions.

Rod Steiger won the Silver Bear for Best Actor.

Steiger’s remarkable performance in “The Pawnbroker” earned him the prestigious Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin International Film Festival.

It was shot in black and white.

The decision to film “The Pawnbroker” in black and white adds to the stark and atmospheric visuals, enhancing the emotional impact of the story.

The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful.

Quincy Jones’ mesmerizing score, combined with the film’s atmospheric sound design, creates an immersive experience for the viewers.

The movie explores the human condition.

“The Pawnbroker” delves deep into the complexities of the human psyche, exploring themes of redemption, loss, and the search for meaning in a turbulent world.

It showcases the power of forgiveness.

Throughout the film, Sol Nazerman grapples with his own demons and learns the transformative power of forgiveness and redemption.

The Pawnbroker received critical acclaim.

The film was praised for its bold storytelling, stunning performances, and its ability to tackle difficult subject matter with sensitivity.

It was a box office success.

Despite the controversy surrounding “The Pawnbroker,” the film resonated with audiences and became a commercial success.

The movie is part of American cultural history.

“The Pawnbroker” is considered an important part of American cinema history, showcasing the evolving nature of storytelling and societal portrayal on the big screen.

It resonates with audiences to this day.

The themes explored in “The Pawnbroker” remain relevant in modern times, making it a timeless and thought-provoking film that continues to captivate audiences.

The movie conveys a powerful message of hope.

Despite the dark subject matter, “The Pawnbroker” ultimately conveys a message of hope and the resilience of the human spirit.

The film’s editing is masterful.

The precise editing techniques used in “The Pawnbroker” contribute to its impactful storytelling, creating a seamless flow between past and present.

It marked a turning point in Sidney Lumet’s career.

“The Pawnbroker” marked a significant step forward in Sidney Lumet’s career, solidifying his reputation as a director unafraid of tackling challenging and thought-provoking subjects.

The movie’s dialogue is memorable.

The script for “The Pawnbroker” is filled with powerful and memorable dialogue, which further enhances the emotional depth of the film.

“The Pawnbroker” is an emotional rollercoaster.

From start to finish, the movie takes viewers on an emotional journey, exploring the depths of despair and the possibilities of redemption.

The film has left a lasting impact.

“The Pawnbroker” has left an indelible mark on cinema, serving as a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

So there you have it – 30 intriguing facts about the movie “The Pawnbroker.” This groundbreaking film continues to be regarded as a cinematic masterpiece, exploring the human condition and pushing the boundaries of storytelling. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a watch to experience the power and depth of this legendary movie.


The Pawnbroker is a powerful and thought-provoking film that delves into the traumatic experiences of a Holocaust survivor and the lasting effects of trauma. With its groundbreaking portrayal of a difficult subject matter, the movie remains an important piece of cinematic history. From Sidney Lumet’s exceptional direction to Rod Steiger’s gripping performance, The Pawnbroker continues to captivate audiences with its emotional intensity and unflinching depiction of human suffering and resilience.


Q: Who directed The Pawnbroker?

A: The movie was directed by Sidney Lumet, a renowned filmmaker known for his work on films like 12 Angry Men and Network.

Q: When was The Pawnbroker released?

A: The Pawnbroker was released on April 20, 1965.

Q: What is the main storyline of the film?

A: The Pawnbroker follows the story of Sol Nazerman, a Holocaust survivor who runs a pawnshop in Harlem, as he navigates the painful memories of his past while confronting the realities of his present life.

Q: Who starred in The Pawnbroker?

A: The movie stars Rod Steiger in a remarkable performance as Sol Nazerman, along with supporting actors such as Geraldine Fitzgerald, Brock Peters, and Jaime Sánchez.

Q: Is The Pawnbroker based on a novel?

A: Yes, The Pawnbroker is based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Edward Lewis Wallant.

Q: Was The Pawnbroker well-received by critics?

A: Yes, the film received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, cinematography, and performances. It was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor for Rod Steiger.

Q: Does The Pawnbroker explore themes of trauma and survival?

A: Absolutely. The movie delves deep into the psychological effects of trauma, particularly in relation to the Holocaust, and examines the ways in which individuals grapple with their past and strive to find meaning and redemption in the face of great suffering.

Q: Is The Pawnbroker a must-watch for cinephiles?

A: Yes, The Pawnbroker is regarded as a must-watch film for its artistic merit, social commentary, and importance in cinematic history. It is a deeply impactful and resonant movie that continues to provoke thought and discussion.