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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Pawnbroker [Blu-ray]

 

(Sidney Lumet, 1964)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Allied Artists Pictures

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:55:48.942

Disc Size: 18,900,712,701 bytes

Feature Size: 18,824,878,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.73 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 22nd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 826 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 826 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Rod Steiger (In the Heat of the Night) earned a Best Actor Oscarr nomination for his stunning performance in this powerful story of hope and empathy from celebrated director Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon). Steiger plays Sol Nazerman, a survivor of a WWII Nazi death camp where his wife, parents and children were murdered. His soul robbed of hope, he takes refuge in misery and a bitter condemnation of humanity while managing a Harlem pawnshop subjected to an endless parade of prostitutes, pimps and thieves. Jamie Sanchez (The Wild Bunch) plays Ortiz, Sol's underprivileged and idealistic assistant who dreams of a better life. Two of the film's best features are the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by the great Boris Kaufman (On the Waterfront) with a memorable trumpet score by the legendary Quincy Jones (The Getaway). The wonderful cast also includes Geraldine Fitzgerald (Wuthering Heights), Brock Peters (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Raymond St. Jacques (Cotton Comes to Harlem).

 

 

The Film:

Critically acclaimed Rod Steiger plays Sol Nazerman, a Jewish pawnbroker who survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, even though his wife and family did not. The devastating experience and unrelenting memories inhibit Sol from emotional involvement with life. He has no faith in religion and less in mankind. Though he carries on an affair with a woman who was also a victim of the Nazi camps, it is without emotion and Sol grows increasingly bitter and callous, withdrawing still further from the world around him. As his small shop in Harlem is run with little care or attention, it becomes a convenient cover for a local racketeer. Finally, a caring social worker tries to appeal to his humanity, but Sol's emotional wounds may prove to be too great to overcome. Based on a book by Edward Lewis Wallant, The Pawnbroker features the skilled camera work of Boris Kaufman, who had previously worked with director Sidney Lumet on films such as 12 Angry Men (1957) and Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

With the rise of Hitler, Prof. Sol Nazerman, a Jew, and his family were dragged to a concentration camp, where he saw his two children die and his wife raped by Nazi officers. Now he operates a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem. Numbed by the horrors of his past, he considers himself conditioned against any emotion. His assistant at the shop is a brash but sensitive young Puerto Rican, Jesus Ortiz, who senses that there is another being under the cold exterior Nazerman presents. But the boy's attempts to break through this exterior are rebuffed, as are those of Marilyn Birchfield, a neighborhood social worker. When Nazerman learns that Rodriguez, the pawnshop's flamboyant black backer, makes his money through prostitution, the old man recalls his wife's death and swears that he wants no part of the business; but Rodriguez forces him to admit that he knew all along where the money came from. One day Ortiz tries to get assurance from Nazerman that there is more to life than the ugliness he sees around him. When Nazerman responds by being thoughtlessly cruel, the boy spitefully arranges for the pawnshop to be robbed. Facing armed thugs, Nazerman refuses to hand over his money and readily--almost eagerly--awaits death. But Ortiz takes the bullet intended for Nazerman and dies in the old man's arms. In frustration, Nazerman impales his hand on the receipt spindle and wanders into the street.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Pawnbroker offers an impressive Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. Only single-layered but contrast and black levels are indications of a very healthy source with solid density. The image is crisp and supports the film grain textures. There is plenty of depth and not a hint of noise. The outdoor sequences jolt you, visually, into a deeper appreciation of the deeply layered contrast inside the pawn shop. Detail is at a high level and the overall image is extremely pleasing. The Blu-ray vastly improved the presentation over an SD rendering and any minor flaws had no detrimental effect on my viewing. Thumbs skyward!

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Olive continue utilizing authentically sourced lossless transfers and The Pawnbroker Blu-ray gets a DTS-HD Master 1.0 mono at a sparse 826 kbps. Notable is Quincy Jones' memorable score (including the introspective 'theme' as sung by Sarah Vaughan) establishing moods with Freddie Hubbard's trumpet solos and J.J. Johnson trombone. Particularly crisp are the vocal inclusions of Marc Allen. All reproduced with clarity and depth via the uncompressed track. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their Blu-ray releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It's hard to describe my reaction to The Pawnbroker. While elements of suffering from being too heavily-played the film has so much greatness from the cinematography, soundtrack and Steiger's tour-de-force performance. Lumet also deseves high praise. I think this was an excellent choice for Olive to bring to Blu-ray. Although the film certainly deserves more - commentary or like discussions - this has plenty of value just being the strong film. Recommended!  

Gary Tooze

April 8th, 2014

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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