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Christ in Concrete: Not on Wall Street

christinconcrete Christ in Concrete: Not on  Wall Street

There is a certain irony in this excerpt from the novel by Italo-American Pietro Di Donato, Christ in Concrete (1939), a story of Italian immigrant building workers and their families in Brooklyn during the Depression. In 1949 a film adaptation of  the novel by director Edward Dmytryk, featured teeming tenements and residential streets shot with a provocatively gritty realism and film noir atmospherics. A powerful leftist denunciation of capitalism, the picture had to be filmed in the UK, and was buried a few days after its US release by a reactionary backlash. The film is the closest an Anglo-American movie ever got to the aesthetic and socialist outlook of Italian neo-realism. My review of the movie last Easter is here.

7 Comments

  1. DeeDee

    Hi! Tony,
    Thanks, for sharing the excerpt from the novel by Italo-American Pietro Di Donato,
    Christ in Concrete (1939), a story of Italian immigrant building workers and their families.

    I watched this film for the first-time last year and this film is exactly, as you described…gritty, honest and most definitely, not an idealized look at Italian families life and very atmospheric too…just take a look at the photographs that you posted last year.

    Thank-you, once again for sharing the link and Tony happy springtime to you and your family.

    DeeDee ;)
    Cont…

  2. DeeDee

    By the way, I was taking a look at how different bloggers celebrate the Easter holiday around the world and this is the information that I found about our friends, from down under:

    Easter is traditionally associated with spring and new birth in Australia. It’s the time when blossom starts to appear on bare trees and the first daffodils are peeping out of the ground.

    Lambs and chicks are popular images with children as the dead, dark, dreary days of winter finally give way to the life and joys of Spring.

    But of course April in Australia is not in the Spring, instead Easter is celebrated in the Autumn when the countryside is bathed in glorious colours of gold, burgundy, deep purples and dazzling orange hues. So for Australians, Easter is when they bid farewell to summer and start making preparations for the coming of winter.

    The Australian Easter is generally a four day weekend, starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Monday. Every shop is closed on Good Friday and it is the only day of the year when newspapers are also unavailable – an event unheard of in the UK! The religious significance remains the same, with many Christian Australians observing mass on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday.

    Wow…now that is different!
    DeeDee ;) :)

  3. Happy Easter to you DeeDee and to all FilmsNoir.Net readers.

    Yes, I suppose the time of year here in Oz is more in keeping with the melancholy mood of Good Friday than the spirit of new renewal on Easter Sunday.

  4. Maurizio Roca

    My parents were Italian immigrants who settled in Brooklyn. Though this happened about 25 years after the film you mentioned was made. I’m still fascinated in seeking this movie out and viewing a slice of history that has interest for me.

  5. Hey Maurizio! As my name is Sam Juliano, I think you can gather what nationality I am too. Ha! I can’t speak a word of Italian, but I’m half “Bruzzese”(Abruzzi), one-quarter Napolitan,(Naples) and one-quarter ‘Bodaise’ (Bari, and like you I do find this vital ethnic connection prevalent in this film, which for many months has been very dear to Mr. D’Ambra’s heart (partially for his love for the genre and of great cinema, and partially as he’s also half Italian) It’s is admittedly a brilliant work, and is available from various outlets.

    In any case this is a fascinating post, concept and article, and I quite agree with this too:

    “The film is the closest an Anglo-American movie ever got to the aesthetic and socialist outlook of Italian neo-realism.”

    I’d say it’s fair game here to also assume that Mr. d’Ambra also considers CHRIST IN CONCRETE Dmytryk’s greatest film, a fair enough assessment.

    Wonderful Easter embellishment there Dee Dee, and Happy Easter to all Films.Noir.net readers!

  6. Hi Maurizio. My good buddy Sam has me down perfect. My late father arrived in Sydney in 1938, and married my mother, a Greek girl. My life growing up is captured in a very real domesticity in the movie, which reflects the universal migrant experience.

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