When a disabled young man (Youssef Chahine) is hired to sell newspapers at Cairo Station, he develops an obsession with Hannuma (Hind Rostom), a soft-drink vendor. One of the first films to make the world notice Chahine as a director was not appreciated by the Egyptian authorities because of its provocative contents. After all, Rostom’s character is explicitly sexual and much of the story also portrays the working class fighting for the right to unionize. It’s a lively picture with colorful characters and a sense of humor, but it’s also a thriller about dark desires that lead to murder; the film’s second half builds tension skillfully. Chahine himself is very good as the pathetic Qinawi.
1958-Egypt. 95 min. B/W. Produced by Gabriel Talhami. Directed by Youssef Chahine. Screenplay: Abdel Hai Adib, Mohamed Abu Youssef. Cast: Farid Shawqi (Abu Siri), Hind Rostom (Hannuma), Youssef Chahine (Qinawi), Hassan el Baroudi, Abdel Aziz Khalil, Naima Wasfy.
Trivia: Original title: Bab el hadid. Alternative title in English: The Iron Gate.