American Playhouse (1980– )
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King of America 

Hot-tempered Greek immigrant Andreas arrives in America in 1915. He finds work on a railroad, but soon gives his corrupt foreman Mekakis a savage beating. Making his way west across the ... See full summary »


Dezsö Magyar


B.J. Merholz


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Episode credited cast:
Larry Atlas Larry Atlas ... Mekakis
David Canary ... Bingham
Philip Casnoff
Olympia Dukakis ... Mama Nicola
Andreas Katsulas ... Markos
Stephen Lang ... Vassilis (as Steve Lang)
Barry Miller ... Demos
Michael Welden Michael Welden ... Andreas


Hot-tempered Greek immigrant Andreas arrives in America in 1915. He finds work on a railroad, but soon gives his corrupt foreman Mekakis a savage beating. Making his way west across the country, Andreas eventually comes upon another railroad looking for workers. It turns out Mekakis has gone westward, too. He offers Andreas the only job suitable for him, a "moutain mover" on the suicide squad: He must grapple down the face of a cliff, position sticks of dynamite and then climb back up again before the lit fuses reach the explosive. Written by Balsamic Vinnie

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Plot Keywords:

immigrant | greek american | 1910s | See All (3) »


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This episode takes place in 1915. See more »

User Reviews

Interesting Film Deserves Wider Circulation.
28 May 2007 | by rsoonsaSee all my reviews

Viewed only once, and that time upon public television's American Playhouse in January, 1982, this well-produced affair offers a nicely balanced assortment of episodes in the lives of Greek migrants to the U.S. in 1915, during a period when many such journeyed throughout the country, often finding employment in the nation's far western states. As the film opens, Vassilis (Stephen Lang with a strong turn) waits upon a New York beach for his friend Andreas (Michael Welden), a Greek merchant seaman who is planning to jump ship with the assistance of Vassilis, the two intending, along with another Greek immigrant, to seek jobs in New York City, and that they successfully do, working initially at a shoe shine emporium, before hopping aboard a rail freight car bound for Chicago, hoping to experience there a more genuine sense for America and its riches than is available to them in New York City. Their travels are suddenly cut short after railroad police collar the trio, placing them in jail where they are visited by Harry Mekakis (Larry Atlas), a railroad agent in the guise of an attorney. After cajoling the young men into signing a contract obligating them to toil as common labourers for a railway line located in Utah, it becomes apparent that Harry, although also a Greek, is not to be trusted by his countrymen and a bitter conflict develops between the sly agent and Andreas. The railroad workers are uncomfortably introduced to some realities faced by European immigrants of the time by being impelled to allocate a portion of their pay to the agent, and when Andreas and Harry's hatred for each other causes several violent incidents, Andreas leaves his railway employment and moves elsewhere in Utah to a copper mining operation, only to find nemesis Harry there as well, bringing about what must only be a fatal encounter between the rivals. Financed through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the work is filmed in Sanbornville, New Hampshire and Bellows Falls, Vermont, with the railway footage being completed at the Wolfeboro (N.H.) Railroad. Historical continuity for the screenplay is maintained through the presence of distinguished consultants, including Greek scholars and Oscar Handlin, an academician specializing in the United States immigrant experience and its influence upon American society and culture. As a result, the well-crafted scenes of mining, railroad, and folkish dance activity set during the first portion of the twentieth century, are quite accurate, the effect of the lattermost being bolstered by generic compositions from Elizabeth Swados, whose highly melodic pieces answer the needs of the film's Grecian musical background. Able director Dezsö Magyar smoothly mixes a colourful set of characters that, along with a crisp narrative pace, result in an ever absorbing blend, with Larry Atlas as cunning Harry earning acting honours. Additionally, exceptional contributions are turned in by director of photography Michael Fash and costume designer John Boxer. 'Tis unfortunate that further productions were not created telling of Andreas and his struggles to assimilate in America. There are a good many ably-written pages within the script, the concluding lines of dialogue being perhaps the most memorable - - as Andreas leaves the mining camp he apologizes to his friend Markos (Andreas Katsulas) for all of the "trouble" that he has caused. The response of Andreas is pungent: "Make trouble wherever you go. And don't be sorry. It is a blessing to know what is right. And an even greater blessing to fight for it."

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Release Date:

19 January 1982 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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