Unquestionably one of Norway's greatest filmmakers, Arne Skouen started out as a novelist and journalist. One day he was invited to the offices of Norsk Film, a principal Norwegian film company before the war that had fallen on hard times. As Skouen entered the office of its general manager, Kristoffer Aamot, he noticed a copy of his novel, Street Urchins, on the man's desk; within a few minutes, Aamot not only asked for the film rights for the novel; he also asked Skouen to direct it.
Beyond having spent a little time in Hollywood a few years before, Skouen had no film experience, but with the help of photographer Ulf Greber, he dedicated himself to bringing Street Urchins to the screen. The result was both a Norwegian film classic as well as the launch of an important career. Set in the 1930s, the film follows a gang of boys from working-class families who are coming to realize how few prospects the future holds for them. Although in school, they spend more time looking for jobs to help their families when not engaging in petty crime or acts of violence. Street Urchins continuously sets the boys' actions and antics against the realities of strikes, labor lockouts and growing protests that define their parents' lives and livelihoods.
The film has been compared to Italian Neorealist films of the period, but Skouen himself cited the influence on him of the French "poetic realism" of Marcel Carné and Julien Duvivier.
Film Society of Lincoln Center/red.