Jun 9, 2013

The Man in the Glass Booth




Before a then relatively unknown Ryan Gosling, despite his reasonably statuesque Aryan appearance, proved he could play the most volatile and self-destructive Jewish neo-nazi in American Jew director/screenwriter Henry Bean's rather underrated and underseen work The Believer (2001), Germanic actor Maximilian Schell played a similarly self-exterminating Jew in The Man in the Glass Booth (1975), a film based on English actor/novelist Robert Shaw's 1967 novel and 1968 stage play, both of the same name, that tells the hysterical yet highly humorous schizo semite story of a seemingly deranged yet super sophisticated Manhattan-based industrialist of the Hebraic persuasion who is kidnapped by secret agents from the Israeli Mossad and taken to Israel to stand trial in an Eichmann-esque fashion under the dubious charge of being a Nazi war criminal of the mass murdering variety. Although a rather aesthetically theatric work that merely seems like a stage-play on steroids like Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) or a Rainer Werner Fassbinder TV-movie like Women in New York (1977), The Man in the Glass Booth would earn its lead star Maximilian Schell (Judgement at Nuremberg, John Carpenter's Vampires) nominations for the Academy Award for “Best Actor” and the Golden Globe Award for “Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama” due to his penetrating performance as a vulgarian genius of a business man that seemingly suffers from a split-personality as a funny fellow who cannot decide whether he is a kosher capitalist or a nefarious National Socialist of the Jew-gassing sort. Undoubtedly one of the most literate and convincing films ever made on the subject of Jewish self-hatred that makes archetypical Judaic nerd Woody Allen’s pathological neuroticism seem like the attention-seeking antics of a spoiled little girl who is jealous that her goyish classmates got more presents for Christmas than she got for Hanukah, The Man in the Glass Booth has the wonderful gall to look at everything from the argument that Israel would not exist today without Hitler and Auschwitz, to the shameful fact that even the richest of Jews are only a generation away from peddling junk in an impoverished Eastern European ghetto. A work not thematically unlike Weiningers Nacht (1990) aka Weininger's Last Night directed by Austrian half-Hebrew Paulus Manker and The Believer (2001) directed by Henry Bean in that it treads the seemingly thin line between anti-Semitism and philo-semitism, as well as the perennial link between narcissism and self-hatred, The Man in the Glass Booth is indubitably a rare piece of scathing, Jew juicy celluloid that ironically appeals to both Jews and their many enemies alike. Although based on a work written by a gentile Englishman who was against his story being adapted cinematically, The Man in the Glass Booth was directed by Jewish-Canadian television/film director Arthur Hiller (Tobruk, The Hospital) and produced by American Jew Ely Abraham Landau (the Shaw adaption being one of the fourteen films in the producer's American Film Theatre series), and ultimately has a more ‘kosher’ essence than anything ever directed by philistine Steven Spielberg, the Jewish filmmaker who has done the most to turned the holocaust into a profitable project and a religion for the goyim. 



 Posh kosher playboy Arthur Goldman (Austrian-born Swiss actor Maximilian Schell) is a ridiculously rich Jewish industrialist who spends a good portion of his time hiding from the real world in his luxuriously lavish Manhattan high-rise and watching people below via binoculars in a patently paranoid manner. An eternally mourning widow who is not that sad over his belated wife's death that it does not stop him from having a different girlfriend for every day of the week (something his wealth allows) and making perverted puns like “the hole is the greater of the sum of its parts” in regard to the fairer sex, as well as an art snob who prefers degenerate Jewish art over the works of Dutch master painter Hieronymus Bosch, Goldman is in many ways the kosher posterboy for a Nazi propaganda like Der Stürmer, yet he is a more keen anti-Semite than National Socialist propagandist Julius Streicher (who, rather ironically, has been rumored to be of Jewish blood himself). As a holocaust survivor who managed to survive Auschwitz some three decades or so before, Goldman, despite his stinking wealth and having the best security resources in the city, has never been able to forget what it is like to live in fear. Seemingly ashamed of his less than successful pretzel-peddler of an Orthodox Jew father, Goldman tells an associate regarding his father’s stay at Auschwitz, “Hymie…Hymie Goldman…was your average middle-aged Jew…so he only last five months…[laughs]…and you know the irony was he really never believed it was happening.” During one sunny day while looking at the little people down below, Goldman has a hallucination of seeing his father wheeling around his ghetto pretzel cart, as well as an SS men, which causes him to tremble in shock and horror as a victim of post-traumatic stress. Naturally, the Judaic industrialist’s assistants, Charlie Cohn (Lawrence Pressman), a younger Jew of the naive post-WWII-born sort, and Jack (Henry Brown), a young black buck, are quite disturbed by their eccentric employer’s exceedingly erratic behavior. For instance, while working out in a public gym, Goldman randomly remarks to his protégé Charlie while handling free weights, “Arbeit macht frei…That’s a big joke of the Germans… Arbeit macht frei means ‘work makes free.’ The only freedom of course was up the chimney…The faster you work the sooner you go to the ovens.” Charlie also becomes especially offended when Mr. Goldman when he tells him he is ‘third rank’ in regard to the Jewish sub-races as a man of Lithuanian-Jewish ancestry. Of course, the biggest shock for Charlie is when the Mossad shows up, anally probes (according to the Mossad man, Herr Hermann Göring shoved a cyanide capsule up his poop chute), and kidnaps Goldman for “crimes against the Jewish people” as the Israeli secret agents believe the Heeb industrialist to be SS Colonel Karl Dorff, the same man who apparently tortured and killed the father of the wealthy holocaust survivor. 



 Upon arriving in Israel, Goldman is visited in his dungeon-like jail cell by an Israeli public prosecutor assigned to his case named Miriam Rosen (Lois Nettleton, who looks strikingly like Barbara Streisand, minus the repellant Ashkenazi beak), a bloodthirsty Jewess of the vengeful, venom-filled “never forget” and “never forgive” sort who wants to see the supposed SS man hanged just like Adolf Eichmann (whose trial and execution largely inspired The Man in the Glass Booth). Goldman waves his right to an attorney and asks to defend himself (as he says, “who is better qualified?!”), which he inevitably does in a striking SS uniform after he makes a deal with Miriam. Goldman also gives Hebraic hell to a young male psychologist when he makes the bold statement that “only a Jew could conceive of reading the human soul from ink blots” in regard to a Rorschach test he is given, thus following in the footsteps of so-called “self-loathing Jews” like anti-Freudians Karl Kraus and Thomas Szasz in his criticism of Freudian psychoanalysis. After the shrink gives Goldman the clinical diagnosis of being ‘criminally psychotic,’ the Nazi Jew wisely states “If I’m psychotic, 80 million Germans were psychotic…and half the gentiles, all the Muslims, the black activists, the protestant members…” and “socially approved acts, when committed by a whole nation, are not psychotic,” which infuriates the openly anti-kraut psychologist. Of course, it is not until the Israeli criminal trial for “crimes against the Jewish people” that Arthur Goldman, under the stoically sadomasochistic persona of SS Colonel Karl Dorff in full Nazi regalia, that the industrialist-turned-war criminal, who is placed in a glass booth for his protection, has holocaust survivors and IDF members literally lunging at him to kill him. The only one to come to Goldman’s aid is his personal assistant Charlie, who states he cannot be Aryan Dorff because he is clearly a Jew due to his Hebraic sense of humor and mastery of Yiddish, not to mention that “no gentile could ever be as anti-semitic as Mr. Goldman is,” thus highlighting one of the most potent themes of The Man in the Glass Booth in regard to an innate pathological self-hatred in every truly Jewish Jew. In the end, Arthur Goldman, a Jew who barely survived a rather unkind and unkosher concentration camp who would live to become one of the most successful men in the United States of America, succumbs to his own survivor’s guilt and self-hatred as a victim who schizophrenically empathized with the victimizers. 



 In a 3 out of 4 star review for The Man in the Glass Booth written by shabbos goy Roger Ebert, the far-left-leaning film critic made the rather blatant yet important observation that: “Films like "Judgment at Nuremberg" began with the assumption that morality could be upheld and responsibility assigned. "The Man in the Glass Booth" is an infinitely more despairing work.” And, indeed, one of the film’s greatest strengths is that it does not settle for a banal black-and-white view of any of the controversial topics it covers to the point where it even makes the quasi-illegal Israeli show trials seem even rather pointless and redundant with the sole purpose of striking fear in potential anti-semites around the world, hence the worldwide publicity of the Eichmann trial. Even the public prosecutor Miriam Rosen displays the most unflattering attributes of the militaristic Israeli mentality when she states “this time if we go, we won’t go alone” regarding if another ‘holocaust’ were to take place against the Jews, the Jew will take measures to wipe out their enemies as well. Indeed, such seething remarks are not that atypical of contemporary Israeli/Jewish thinkers as the Israeli military historian/theorist Martin van Creveld made the rather apocalyptic remark that sounds like words from a wackjob from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) in a September 2003 interview in the Dutch weekly, Elsevier, that regarding his beyond-an-eye-for-an-eye nation: “We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.” Aside from the rather tame anti-Israeli statements from ‘self-loathing Jews’ like Norman Finkelstein and Gilad Atzmon, it seems like the days of  sophisticated self-hating Hebrews suffering from the ‘Jew flu’ are long gone, which is probably largely the result of Europe’s decline in cultural dominance and the rise of Jewish power in the United States as expressed by the flagrant philo-semitism in academia and Hollywood, among other things, thus while The Man in the Glass Booth might seem rather outmoded and even inexplicable to modern viewers, it is rather doubtful that anyone could describe the film as a depiction of the so called “banality of evil,” even as a minimalistic courtroom melodrama.  For those that ever wondered how or why someone could possibly humor the possibility that Uncle Adolf and friends may have had some Israelite blood, The Man in the Glass Booth offers some completely kosher food-for-thought.



-Ty E

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