The Juggler (film)

The Juggler is a 1953 war film starring Kirk Douglas as a survivor of the Holocaust. The screenplay was adapted by Michael Blankfort from his novel of the same name.

The Juggler
Theatrical poster
Directed byEdward Dmytryk
Produced byStanley Kramer
Written byMichael Blankfort (novel and screenplay)
StarringKirk Douglas
Music byGeorge Antheil
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Edited byAaron Stell
Stanley Kramer Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 5, 1953 (1953-05-05) (New York City)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States


After World War II, a German Jew named Hans Müller (Kirk Douglas) is one of a shipload of Jewish refugees who disembark at Haifa in 1949. Like many other concentration camp survivors, Hans has psychological problems, including survivor guilt. At one point, he mistakes a woman and some children for his murdered family.

At the first opportunity, he sneaks out of the refugee camp and goes into the city. When he spots a policeman, Hans panics and reacts by fleeing. The policeman chases him down and begins questioning him. Hans becomes very agitated and attacks, leaving the man unconscious in the street. Hans flees and ends up sleeping in the countryside, where he is found by a teenage orphan Sabra, Yehoshua "Josh" Bresler (Joey Walsh). Hans pretends to be an eccentric American, out to see Israel firsthand. Josh offers to be his guide. During their journey, Hans reveals that he was a professional juggler; Josh persuades him to pass on his knowledge. Meanwhile, police detective Karni (Paul Stewart) sets out to track the fugitive down.

On their journey, Josh is injured when he wanders into a minefield. He is taken to a hospital at a nearby kibbutz, but has only broken his leg. While Josh recovers, Hans becomes acquainted with one of the residents, Ya'el (Milly Vitale). They are attracted to each other, but he at first strongly resists her attempt to persuade him to remain at the kibbutz. He reveals to her that he had ignored warnings from friends to flee Nazi Germany before it was too late, making the fatal mistake of counting on his fame and popularity to protect his family. Gradually, however, he begins to settle in.

Karni finally tracks Hans down and tries to take him into custody. Hans panics again and barricades himself in Ya'el's room with her rifle, but Ya'el and Karni get him to admit he needs help and to give himself up.


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