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The Glass Wall (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 July 1953 (Finland)
Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to ... See full summary »

Director:

Maxwell Shane

Writers:

Ivan Tors (screenplay), Maxwell Shane (screenplay)
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Peter Kaban
Gloria Grahame ... Maggie Summers
Ann Robinson ... Nancy
Douglas Spencer ... Inspector Bailey
Robin Raymond ... Tanya aka Bella Zakoyla
Jerry Paris ... Tom
Elizabeth Slifer Elizabeth Slifer ... Mrs. Hinckley - Landlady
Richard Reeves ... Eddie Hinckley
Joe Turkel ... Freddie Zakoyla (as Joseph Turkel)
Else Bäck Else Bäck ... Mrs. Zakoyla (as Else Neft)
Michael Fox ... Inspector Toomey / Narrator
Nesdon Booth Nesdon Booth ... Monroe - Taxi Driver (as Ned Booth)
Kathleen Freeman ... Zelda - Fat Woman
Juney Ellis Juney Ellis ... Girl friend
Jack Teagarden ... Musician
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Storyline

Peter, a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie, a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Shorty Rogers and his band and trombonist Jack Teagarden are playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla, takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE 10-HOUR MANHUNT...that tore New York apart!

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 July 1953 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Die gläserne Mauer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Along with Jack Teagarden (trombone) in the nightclub sequence, in the band Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone) on the far left and Shelly Manne (drums) can be seen. Shorty Rogers (trumpet) is leading the band. He and Bob Keene (clarinet) supply off camera solos for the actors. See more »

Goofs

The lights on the elevator floor indicator show that the elevator in United Nations building seem to travel 36 floors in three to five seconds. That kind of acceleration, speed, and braking would injure any occupants of the elevator; especially the elderly operator. That distance in that period of time would equate to almost sixty miles per hour. See more »

Quotes

Peter Kaban: Tell me. Is there not work for everyone here in America?
Maggie Summers: Almost everyone.
Peter Kaban: So, how it happens that a girl like you steals a coat?
Maggie Summers: I don't know. I was cold. I needed a coat.
[She thinks]
Maggie Summers: More than that, I was fed up, I guess.
[She stands up]
Maggie Summers: Did you ever put tips on shoe laces?
Peter Kaban: Tip on shoelaces?
Maggie Summers: Yeah. That's what I did for two years.
[...]
See more »

Connections

References Red Mountain (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

Better Than Expected
9 January 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The movie came as a rather pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting much, not having heard of it among Grahame's usual list of noirs. Nonetheless, it's imaginatively directed and generally suspenseful, despite a one-note plot. Refugee Kaban (Gassman) arrives in New York as a stowaway, but will be deported if he doesn't track down a musician friend. So he searches the dives along Times Square looking for the guy he last saw in Europe. While he's tracking his friend, however, the cops are tracking him. There's also a number of sub-plots concerning people he meets on the way, who sort of drift in and out.

There's atmosphere a-plenty as director Shane takes the camera crew along Times Square's night beat, which amounts to a dazzling b&w light show. At the same time, Gassman's gaunt frame and few words add to the carnival of characters. Grahame has a sympathetic role, for a change, which may be why the film remains obscure. Here, she's mostly a tag- along with Gassman and then with the cops. But I really like the unknown Robin Raymond as the personality-plus stripper who lights up the screen in a brief role.

At first, I thought "the glass wall" referred to Kaban's inability to enter the country as a stowaway. But then, the many imposing shots of the glass slab of the UN building changed my reference. Nonetheless, it looks like a number of scenes were actually filmed in the UN, lending the story even more visual appeal. All in all, the movie's a pretty good dramatic travelogue of downtown NYC, slim on plot and dialog but fat on inventive visuals. It's also reminiscent of a time when Europe's post-war DP's (displaced persons) were much in the news.


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