Plot: Arthur Goldman, a Holocaust survivor and successful Jewish businessman, lives in a ritzy pad overlooking New York City. A guy with an afro and an assistant named Charlie help meet his everyday needs, but they can't help noticing that their eccentric boss seems to be getting nuttier and nuttier with each passing day. Seemingly paranoid about the appearance and reappearance of a blue Mercedes, he has Charlie run some unusual errands. Eventually, men with guns burst in and arrest him, accusing him of being a Nazi war criminal instead of one of their victims. He's taken to Israel for a trial and is forced to sit in a dunking booth.
I'm not going to pretend to fully understand this movie, but it's one of those I can't stop thinking about hours after it's finished. I'm perplexed by the plot twists, bewildered by a large percentage of what Goldman said in both his apartment when talking to members of his posse or during the trial, and I'm confused by what was almost an indeterminate ending. But this is undeniably powerful, provocative, and emotionally difficult stuff. This is definitely not an easy movie at all, raising a lot more questions than it attempts to answer. I'm not Jewish and I'm not a Nazi, so maybe that's why I had a difficult time with it all. The movie's based on a Robert Shaw play and is very heavy on the dialogue, a lot of it spoken in a thick German accent. About 90% of what's said in this is spoken by Maximilian Schell as Goldman, essentially making this like a one-man show. And what a one-man show it is! He froths, he pontificates, he raves, he cracks joke, he moans. You feel sorry for him, you're amused by him, you want to watch him die and then fry in hell. Schell puts the audience on his back and, as you grasp some loose skin of his bald head, runs up and down hills and demands that you say, "Whee!" I said, "Whee!" His is truly one of the most remarkable and stunning performances I've ever seen. There are monologues that dropped my jaw and silent moments that he somehow managed to fill with an overwhelming intensity. It's the kind of character he probably needed numerous showers to wash off himself. He was nominated for the Oscar, but the prize went to Jack instead. Unforgettable, gripping stuff here. If you've not seen this, you should see it so that we can discuss it. It's definitely one of those movies you want to talk about immediately after you've watched it.