Men at Lunch

As seen from behind, the subjects of the iconic 1932 photo of construction workers on the 69th floor of the Rockefeller Center, featured in ‘Men at Lunch’, a film by Sean O’ Cualain. A First Run Features release.

Who doesn’t like a good documentary, am I right?

For me, documentaries are escapism.

Most people would turn to brain-dead action films or romantic comedies to pass the time.

Not me, I like to know more about things going on in the world.

So when I was eating dinner at a friend’s house and he mentioned the film ‘Men at Lunch’ to me, I was intrigued.

First off, I had never heard of it, although I knew the picture it was based on very well.

Which photo is that, you ask?

It is the 1932 photo entitled ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper,’ a photo of 11 construction workers taking a lunch- time break amidst construction of the Rockefeller Center, or as it is referred to now, 30 Rock.

It has been a photo that has intrigued me for a lot of reasons.

The first reason is how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I mean, back then guys didn’t have safety harnesses. They just bounded around from girder to girder as if they were without a care in the world.

To sit there, eating lunch, hundreds of feet up, just would have unnerved me.

Basically because every time I looked down at my sandwich I would see the street lingering so many feet below me.

It is enough to make my stomach turn a little bit just thinking about it.

Secondly, I have always heard the rumor that it was staged. If that were the case, even though still impressive, it takes a bit of the spontaneity out of it.

This film goes into great detail on how and why this photo was taken and even addresses some of the men who happen to be sitting on that girder so many feet above ground.

This movie is fascinating and just pulls you into the story of these men and the man who took the photo.

Although, even the identity of the photographer has been in debate for so many years now. Some will tell you that it was Charles Ebbets who took the iconic photo; others think it could be someone else who was on the girders that day.

In the end, it is about the history behind the men who risked their lives to change the face of New York City.

It is about the history of immigrants coming from across the seas to seek a better life and finding it in the sky above the Big Apple.

Overall, I enjoyed this film because of the journey it takes you on. It is about the history of the photo as well as the mood and mindset of those during this time in our country.

It is a fascinating look into the past and worth a few minutes of your time.

3.5 out of 5 stars