Juggler, The (1953): Dmytryk’s Melodrama, Starring Kirk Douglas as Troubled Holocaust Survivor in Israel

In The Juggler, adapted to the screen by Michael Blankfort from his novel of the same name, Kirk Douglas plays a survivor of the Holocaust, Hans Müller, a Jewish refugee who goes to Israel in 1949.

The film was produced by Stanley Kramer, who was the first to hire director Edward Dmytryk, after the latter was blacklisted and served time in prison as one of the “Hollywood Ten.”

Like other concentration camp survivors, Hans is troubled by all kinds of psychological problems, including guilt of being alive; he mistakes a woman and some children for his murdered family.

Sneaking out of the refugee camp, he goes into the city, but gets into panic and flee when he spots a policeman. The suspicious cop chases him down and begins an interrogation. Agitated, Hans attacks an innocent man in the street.

He ends up sleeping in the countryside, where he is found by a teenage orphan Yehoshua “Josh” Bresler (Joey Walsh). Hans pretends to be an American tourist, and Josh offers to be his guide.

When Hans reveals that he was a juggler, Josh persuades him to share his expertise. Meanwhile, police detective Karni (Paul Stewart) sets out to track the fugitive down.

On their journey, Josh is injured in a mine field and is taken to a nearby kibbutz. While Josh recovers, Hans meets Yael (Milly Vitale), a nice girl who suggests that he remains at the kibbutz. He reveals that he had ignored warnings to flee Nazi Germany, counting on his fame to protect his family.

Caught by the police, Hans panics again, barricading himself in Yael’s room, but later submits, admitting that he needs help.



Running time: 88 minutes

Released by Columbia