films about working people

Norma Rae (1979)  Directed by Martin Ritt.    Oscar winner Sally Fields stars in the story of a Southern mill worker whose fighting spirit emerges after witnessing the deplorable conditions in the textile mill.  Based on a true story.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940)  Directed by John Ford.  Adaptation of Steinbeck’s story of the migration of the Joad family from Oklahoma to California during the dust bowl.  Nominated for seven academy awards.


Metropolis (Germany, 1926)  Directed by Fritz Lang, depicts the struggle between management and labor in the subterranean factory of the future.  A silent film classic.

Bread and Roses (2000)  Directed by Ken Loach.  The struggle of illegal immigrants  working for sub-standard wages  cleaning homes in California, afraid they will be fired without cause is the the backdrop of this story of  a union organizer’s  (played by Adrien Brody) efforts to  help the workers achieve economic  justice.

Salt of the Earth (1954)  Directed by Rosaura Revueltas and Herbert J. Biberman.  Produced, written, and directed by filmmakers who were on the House UnAmerican Activites Committee (HUAC) blacklist of the early 1950’s, Salt of the Earth tells the story of the struggle and fight for dignity of striking Mexican mine workers whose wives pick up the fight after the men were forced to stop picketing.

Matewan (1987)  Directed by John Sayles.  A fictionalized account depicting the mine wars of the last century, Matewan accurately depicts the hard life of the West Virginia miners and their struggle to organize under the leadership of the United Mine Workers.

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