Barrio Gris is a 1952 novel, the first by Argentine writer Joaquín Gómez Bas (born in Spain in 1907, Gómez Bas emigrated to Argentina at an early age). Barrio Gris is a gritty realistic work whose characters live in the Buenos Aires suburb of Sarandí where I grew up. Sarandí was not a slum: it was a working class - lower middle class neighborhood where people had stable (mostly low pay) jobs and decent, if modest houses (mostly built by themselves). There were slums nearby, however; about a third of the students in my elementary school were slum dwellers. Gomez Bas' description of Sarandí is uncannily accurate, down to the frequent street flooding and the chemical pollution from a large factory nearby. His characters and situations are true to life. Barrio Gris had a significant impact on Argentine literature since it was so different from the norm; most Argentine writers like Borges and Cortázar were on a different wavelength (fantastic/intellectual) and their knowledge of, or interest in the working classes was nil. Gómez Bas' identification with his adopted country was such that he was elected to the Academia del Lunfardo (Lunfardo is Buenos Aires slang).
Mario Soffici was a solid studio director who, on occasion managed to attain a degree of artistry. This is one of his best movies, although it does not quite reach the excellence of the novel. It has an authentic feeling (part was filmed on location).
Although in 1954 Alberto de Mendoza had been in films for two decades, this movie placed him on the map as a star; his career took off spectacularly. He does an excellent job, supported by a good cast.
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