New York City, 1932. The country is in the throes of the Great Depression, the previous decade's boom of Italian, Irish, and Jewish immigrants has led to unprecedented urban expansion, and in the midst of an unseasonably warm autumn, steelworkers risk life and limb building skyscrapers high above the streets of Manhattan. In Men at Lunch, director Seán Ó Cualáin tells the story of "Lunch atop a Skyscraper," the iconic photograph taken during the construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza that depicts eleven workmen taking their lunch break while casually perched along a steel girder - boots dangling 850 feet above the sidewalk, Central Park and the misty Manhattan skyline stretching out behind them. For 80 years, the identity of the eleven men - and the photographer that Immortalized them - remained a mystery: their stories, lost in time, subsumed by the fame of the image itself. But then, at the start of the 21st century, the photograph finally began to give up some of its secrets. Part ...Written by
First Run Features
It's well worth taking the time to recognize the salt of the earth that was within the men in this photograph, and the many others who were not photographed.
What a crucible this time period and this profession was! It was sink or swim or spend all day walking on a four-inch wide steel girder. Their courage and perseverance represented more than just American culture, but the modern era itself.
This documentary film doesn't allow the viewer to miss the "every man" aspect of not just the men who did the construction work, but the photographers who put themselves in harms way in order to give record to those feats of construction.
How many of those men on the girder were hired off the back of a truck that same week? None of them including the photographer who took the photo were ever kept in any company record.
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