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MOVIE: "The Man In The Glass Booth"

Hegel Schmegel

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Movie Title: The Man In The Glass Booth

Director: Arthur Hiller

Released: 1975


Distinguished thespian and ethnic German Maximillian Schell is probably best known for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), as Hans Rolfe, defense attorney to the Nazis on trial for committing war crimes.


As equally impressive as Schell's appearance was in that film was his appearance in this one, this time around playing not a German but a Jew.


Meet Arthur Goldman, an opulent Jew who lives high atop his (ivory) tower, in a penthouse suite overlooking New York City. Goldman, as his name suggests, is quite wealthy, and as such can afford to live as a reclusive eccentric prone to bouts of conspiranoia.


Despite the widower being opinionated on any number of subjects, the loquacious rambler's pet topic is Jewishness. He loves to talk about his father who was murdered in a concentration camp, and the virtues of being a Jew.


But is Arthur Goldman all that he appears? Could this appearing Jew in fact be a crypto-Nazi? To say that Goldman is a psychoanalyst's wet dream come true would be an understatement!


AG"s siege mentality, it turns out, was not unwarranted. For no sooner is our balding, bespectacled protagonist kidnapped by Israeli agents (the Mossad) and put on trial as Adolph Dorf, alleged ex-commandant of a Nazi death camp.


Maximillian Schell once again turns in a tour de force performance, inhabiting the role of Goldman/Dorf, a Nazi war criminal hiding out in NYC, posing as a financially successful Jew, who doesn't like there being more than one 'about' in the same sentence and who in one scene instructs his manservant to bring him both a coffee and a tea.


The last hour, set inside the courtroom, with Goldman/Dorf locked inside a transparent booth for his own protection, is the best.


The Man in the Glass Booth, which sparked controversy upon its release, is such a brilliantly acted and well-written story that credit must also be given to Robert Shaw who wrote the absurdist screenplay. This is cinematic theater at its best.


After many years, I watched it again the other night.

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