The Glass Wall

Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir
Director(s): Maxwell Shane
Production: Columbia Pictures
  1 win.
82 min

On March 27th last, 1,322 displaced persons

sailed past the Statue of Liberty

into the safe harbor of New York.

Rescued by the International Refugee

Organization of the United Nations,

their eyes filled with tears of happiness

as they were welcomed to America.

From the teeming shores

of an unsettled world,

they had come in search of human dignity,

in search of freedom from want, from fear,

from persecution.

At last, the hope

and the dream had come true.

They had found a home and peace.

Forgotten was the nightmare of war, erased

was the torment of the concentration camp.

A golden door had opened.

A new life had begun.

For all, except one of them.

For he had come so far

only to be locked out.

Okay, Kuban, you're next. Let's go.

Kuban, a stowaway.

Sit down.

- Name?

- Peter Kuban.

- You speak English?

- Yes.

Where did you learn? In school?

No, sir.

From other prisoners in concentration camp.

I had much time to learn.

- Your nationality?

- I have none.

I was born in Hungary,

but the Hungary I loved is no more.

Any distinguishing marks?

Scars. Marks on your body for identification.

No fingernails on second,

third and fourth fingers.

What happened to your fingernails?

They thought I knew something.

They pulled them out with pliers.

It's already seven years.

Any other marks?

I have a scar on the right shoulder

from a bayonet.

Never mind.

Last permanent address.

- Camps.

- What camps?

Auschwitz, labor camps,

concentration camps, disciplinary camps.

Ten years in camps.

- How old are you?

- Twenty-five.


The gas chamber, 1944.

You stowed away at Trieste.

How did you get from Sopron to Trieste?

- I walked.

- Three hundred miles?

I walked.

- Without passport? Without money?

- I have money.

$8. I can pay the head tax.

Kuban, I'm afraid there is nothing we can do.

You stowed away. You're here illegally.

- But...

- We can't let you in.

The law is exact. We have to send you back.


You do not understand.

Listen, I escaped.

If they get me back, I'll be dead.

I have committed no crime.

A man has a right to live,

to have a home, to be free.

We have no choice.

- Our job is to enforce the law.

- I read the law.

It says that you must allow me to come in.

- What law is that?

- The Displaced Persons law,

statute number six.

It was passed by your Congress.

- What about statute six?

- I tell you.

"A person bearing arms for the Allied cause

in World War II

"has the privilege to come into America

without a quota number before others. "

Yes, that's true.

You can prove

that you helped the Allied cause?

Just before the end of the war,

I escaped from Auschwitz.

I joined the Underground,

and I found an American parachute soldier.

His leg was broken.

I hid him in a stable for five days.

I stole food for him.

When the front collapsed,

I carried him on my back

to an American field hospital.

- What was his name? The soldier.

- Tom.

- It was Tom.

- Give us his name, address, outfit.

It was Tom. He was a parachute soldier.

His name and address.

He lives in New York. He lives here.

Yes. And his name?

He called me Pete. I called him Tom.

He's a musician. He told me.

He plays the clarinet.

You need evidence, signatures, witnesses.

If you don't even know his name,

we cannot help you.

But I saved him. He lives in New York.

He told me.

He used to talk to me

about a place where he worked.

A crowded street.

A street called Times...

Times Square. That's it.

He told me that he wanted to go back

to Times Square.

To do you any good,

you'll need his full name and address.

I could find him.

If you let me off the boat, I can find him.

He lives in New York. He's a musician.

New York is not Sopron.

- Have you ever been in a big city?

- No.

New York has eight million people,

100,000 Toms, 50,000 musicians...

But I could find him. I know it.

I could find him,

and he would prove my story.

We can't let you off this ship.

You do not believe me.

Look, he gave me his watch.

The watch doesn't prove anything.

I'm sorry, Kuban.

The law gives us no choice.

We have to send you back.

"Stateless Peter Kuban arrived today

as a stowaway aboard the S.S. Concord.

"Unable to furnish the necessary papers,

"he will be deported to Trieste tomorrow. "

Take it easy, kid.

That story'll make you famous.

Sure. Millions of dames will read about you

and cry in their beer over you.

People will even write to their congressmen.

Yes? And then what will happen?

Nothing. Tomorrow,

you'll be sailing back home.

Stop that man! He's escaping!

He's gone that way. Get him!

Hey! The stowaway!

Head him off! Hey!

Second deck. Up there! Get him!

You! Stop!

Don't jump! You'll get killed!

Stop or I'll shoot!

Stop there!

Try that way.

Hey, give me a lift. I'm chasing a guy.

Times Square.

Just like Tom said.

He's the first one ever to jump ship on us.

Well, these fellows know all the tricks.

If we don't get him back, it'll be my neck.

Well, for one thing, we know he's hurt.

We'll check the hospitals.

You take that detail, Swanson.

You know that clarinet player

he was telling us about?


You think he'd be crazy enough

to try to find him?

You believe that story?

It sounded on the up-and-up to me.

Didn't it?

They've all got stories.

When you hear them day after day,

you don't know what to believe.

But if it is true,

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Ivan Tors

Ivan Tors (born Iván Törzs; June 12, 1916  in Budapest, Hungary – June 4, 1983 in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso) was a Hungarian playwright, film director, screenwriter, and film and television producer with an emphasis on non-violent but exciting science fiction, underwater sequences, and stories involving animals. He started a Miami-based film studio now known as Greenwich Studios, and later a music company. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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