Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 7pm
Edward Dmytryk's Give Us This Day

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Give Us This Day, Edward Dmytryk, 1949, 16mm, 120 mins

Adapted from Pietro di Donato’s bestselling novel about Italian-American bricklayers and their families in New York during the Depression, Give Us This Day (aka Christ in Concrete, and Salt to the Devil) is a domestic saga with socialist undertones and a surprising trans-Atlantic genesis. Paramount initially approached di Donato with the idea of a Frank Capra-helmed picture; the author is said to have refused by telling Capra, “You capitalist pig, there’s no way I’m going to let you touch this beauty.” Di Donato later connected with Rod Geiger, the American producer of Rome, Open City, who attempted, without success, to bring on first Rossellini, then reportedly Visconti, as director. Di Donato ultimately pushed for Edward Dmytryk, after seeing his socially-conscious feature Crossfire. Dmytryk, however, had recently been blacklisted by Hollywood for refusing to name names before HUAC (he later recanted), so the bulk of shooting took place in England, where the Lower East Side was replicated on British soundstages. Both the film’s star, Sam Wanamaker, and screenwriter, Ben Barzman, were blacklisted exiles themselves.

“In some respects this is Edward Dmytryk's best film, but sadly it's also his least known,” Jonathan Rosenbaum has observed. “Budgetary restrictions account for some awkwardness, yet this is a moving and durable work.” Indeed, Give Us This Day has developed something of a cult following among more contemporary auteurs (it’s a movie of special consequence to Pedro Costa, for example). Despite its limitations, Give Us This Day imbues the studio expressionism of American film noir with the moral weight of Italian neorealism, and its gritty portrait of domestic life predicts the British kitchen sink drama. The film never directly engages with the leftist politics that enraged HUAC—there’s scant mention of unionization among the workers, much less the Communist Party—though the life-or-death necessity for solidarity in the face of unrelenting capitalist exploitation remains its major theme. What does emerge is a gripping psychological study of immigrant struggle, a vision of the American dream smashed against the rocks.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 6:30pm.