The Golden Door


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I watched an Italian film called The Golden Door (2006) on UK television last night. This was about an Italian family emigrating to the USA circa 1895, and although the shipboard scenes were (I thought) very poor, the Ellis Island scenes were rather better. I wonder if anyone else has seen this film and, if so, was it accurate - for example, were there any Italian emigrant ships at that time? (If so, why did so many Italians emigrate abord UK ships?)
 
I don't know that many Italians did emigrate on British ships, Stanley. Despite Harold Lowe's observation about hordes of them on the boat deck there were only four Italians in 3rd Class on the Titanic. And of those one was already established in the US and two in England.

Certainly there were Italian emigrant ships, and conditions aboard for those who held the cheapest tickets were much closer to those in traditional steerage than to the much improved 3rd Class on British ships.
 

Mark Baber

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I don't know that many Italians did emigrate on British ships

Bob, this is probably true of British ships sailing from Britain circa 1912, but there were plenty of British ships sailing from Italy carrying immigrants. According to the Morton Allan Directory, Anchor Line ships made 18 U.S. arrivals from Italy in 1912; Cunard, 28; and White Star, 17 (not including cruises by Adriatic and Cedric). Italian lines active that year included the Austro-American Line (36 sailings) the Italia Line (10), La Veloce (10), Lloyd Italiano (18), Lloyd Sabaudo (7), Navigazione Generale Italiana (17) and Sicula Americana (17).

Backing up to 1895, Anchor (19 sailings) was already active in Italy although Cunard and White Star weren't. LaVeloce had 1 and NGI 3.

In addition to the British and Italian lines I've mentioned, the two big German Lines---Hapag and NDL---had Italy-U.S. service in both 1895 and 1912.
 
The conditions aboard the Italian vessel depicted in The Golden Door were far worse than those of steerage class on a British, German or indeed any American or north European ship. In fact, they resembled the standards of comfort which might have pertained on an 18th century slave ship; at one stage, for example, the un-named vessel was struck by a storm in which large numbers of emigrants apparently died after being thrown around the hold (in which they were locked-in behind barred gates).

This is why I doubt the accuracy of the film, although my suggestion is that the Ellis Island sequences, which occupied roughly the final third of the film, were much better, and would possibly be of interest to many of the users of this forum.
 
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