TIFF 2012 Review: Men at Lunch
You know that photo of New York City iron workers eating lunch on a steel girder hundreds of feet above the sidewalks of Mahattan? You definitely know this photos because as the new documentary Men at Lunch from Seán Ó Cualáin informs us, this photo is the most requested one from the Corbis library. It’s adorns posters, postcards, coffee mugs, and (if you’ve spent time on the street in Mahattan) it’s replicated as sculpture on the back a pick-up truck. This doc investigates the origins of the photos, disproves some rumours, and offers tribute to the immigrants who built Manhattan.
Men at Lunch is fascinating. Here’s the most fascinating part for me: that photo of the guys sitting on the beam maybe be stomach churning but it’s actually the least stomach churning of the similar photos of the Rockefeller Center building project. The ones where the dues are standing on one foot, balancing on a mere four inches, or leaping from beam to beam are far more nerve racking. The cumulative effect is that endless allegations of the photo being a fake, dating from it’s very publication in 1932, are dispelled by this archive.
There’s a lot more interesting stuff in Men at Lunch. Unfortunately, there’s not quite enough to qualify for a feature documentary worth of watching. The conclusion of the movie drags, with the resident talking head historians and writers making the romantic points about the sweat of Irish immigrants. But there’s nothing disagreeable here, and when this movie makes it’s way to PBS don’t dare miss it.
Trailer for Men at Lunch
Images from Men at Lunch