Alan Bates is one of the most sadly forgotten actors from the 60's and 70's. While he's been doing mostly stage work recently, many seem to have forgotten the extraordinary output that he had: Zorba the Greek, A Kind of Loving, Georgy Girl, Far From the Madding Crowd, An Unmarried Woman, Women in Love, Butley, and this.
His performance as Yakov Bok, a Jewish handyman wrongly accused of murder, is the the driving force behind Dalton Trumbo's adaption of Bernard Malamud's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. While John Frankenheimer's direction is rather clunky at times (a disappointment, seeing as he was coming off a good run with The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, and The Train), the length is about twenty minutes too long, and a few supporting characters remain under-developed, his gritty performance keeps The Fixer going. It's interesting to see Yakov go from being a non-religious Jew who agrees to work for an Anti-Sematic official for money to a political prisoner who will proclaim his innocence despite whatever torture is inflicted on him. As the brutality of the officials grows harsher, his religious feelings grow stronger, and Bates makes it believable from beginning to end.
Dirk Bogarde also does well as a lawyer who will defend Yakov at any cost (even though his character's intentions remain unclear), as does Ian Holm as an investigator who considers Jews to be inhuman criminals.
The Fixer had a brief run on video a few years ago, but I am not sure if it is still being circulated.
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