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Men at Lunch
A film by Seán Ó Cualáin

67 minutes, documentary, color, English, 2012

Currently unavailable



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 homage, part investigation, Men at Lunch is the sublime tale of an American icon, an unprecedented race to the sky and the immigrant workers that built New York.

Watch the Trailer


"A fascinating journey. Ó Cualáin's photographic detective work is both evocative and eloquently effective." - Screen Daily

"Men at Lunch' is infectiously and unabashedly uplifting as it celebrates the American immigrant experience...placing those laborers and the products of their labor in a vividly evoked historical context." - Variety

"The documentary invites the viewer to meditate on that moment. 'Men at Lunch' solves some of the puzzle created during a New York autumn when Babe Ruth's Yankees were winning the World Series and Franklin Delano Roosevelt was winning the presidency."
- The New York Times

"Fascinating." - Booklist

"The film is a rich and resonant piece of work, well worth seeking out." - Indiewire


See details about this film's theatrical run.



Disc Features

Five Bonus Shorts:

●  The 1929 Crash, Rockefeller Center
●  Joe Woolhead on September 11, 2001
●  The Inspiration of 'Lunch Atop a Skyscraper'
●  Ric Burns on 'Lunch Atop a Skyscraper'

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