THE GLASS WALL
Directed by Maxwell Shane
Starring Vittorio Gassman, Gloria Grahame.
35mm. Approx. 80 min.
“Drama of refugee Vittorio Gassman who illegally came to N.Y.C. and, rather than accept deportation, goes on the lam.” – Leonard Maltin.
Presented with support from the Robert Jolin Osborne Endowed Fund for American Classic Cinema.
“The ‘glass wall’ of the title, is not some immigration ceiling, but the modernist façade of the United Nations building itself…While Gassman is sweet, helpless, and obviously in need of all the assistance the UN can give him, Grahame’s character is an incredibly tough cookie who has walked away from her $35-a-week job pasting tips on shoe laces. The pair meets while she is stealing someone’s coat in the Automat, although her best scene shows her cadging two dimes from a pair of street urchins. Instead of dealing only with a needy immigrant gratefully acknowledging a helping hand from some generous Americans, The Glass Wall pairs him with a luckless New Yorker who is as much in need of Marshall Plan aid as he is… Filming in crowded streets was done from a camera concealed in a packing box mounted on a hand truck pulled by two “grips”. Mr. Gassman followed this odd vehicle from which two tightly packed cameramen photographed his ramblings. In an attempt to heighten realism, the producers dispensed with the usual roping off of location areas; hence the fluid movement of the crowds is completely natural… Ivan Tors did succeed in gaining full cooperation from United Nations personnel and was the first filmmaker to be allowed access to UN offices and meeting halls.”
- Richard Koszarski, “Keep ’em in the East”: Kazan, Kubrick, and the Postwar New York Film Renaissance