Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013 by coffeecritic
Barbecues, store sales, the start of a new school year. Labor Day also signals the official end of summer, and for me, being from the East Coast, it was the last day that it was acceptable to wear white shoes.
But sometimes it seems that we've lost the real meaning of this holiday, a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of the American worker. So after all the shopping and eating, you may want to celebrate labor with movies and music from SCCLD's collection of comedies, dramas, documentaries and songs.
This historical drama by Mario Monicello (Big Deal on Madonna Street) depicts workers in a textile factory in turn-of-the-century Turin, during the early days of the Italian industrial revolution. Moving and funny at the same time, it features actor Marcello Mastroianni, the great cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno (Amarcord) and an Oscar-nominated screenplay.
A delightfully entertaining dramatization of an event In 1968, when the female workers at the Ford Dagenham car plant, walked out in protest against sexual discrimination. Their actions played a major role in the battle for equal pay, in the United Kingdom, and around the world. Golden Globe award winner Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go-Lucky) stars as Rita O'Grady, who finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the limelight as leader of the strike. Also starring Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson.
Barbara Kopple documented a 1973 Kentucky coal-miners' strike in this Oscar-winning film, in real time, witnessing violent battles between gun-toting company thugs and picketing miners and the women who supported them. The strike lasted more than a year, and demonstrated incredible courage and solidarity. The film, which came out in 1976, is as relevant today as when it first appeared.
A little-known chapter of American labor is brought vividly to life in this period drama from writer-director John Sayles and master cinematographer Haskell Wexler.It is a fictional story based on the Battle of Matewan, in 1920, also known as the Matewan Massacre, in which there was a shoot-out between local miners and the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency, that left seven detectives and three townspeople dead. This tragedy, along with the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado six years earlier, marked an important turning point in the battle for miners' rights. The film, is a milestone of independent filmmaking and remains one of Sayles's finest achievements.
In the performance of a lifetime, Sally Field is unforgettable as Norma Rae, a millworker who organizes her fellow factory workers to fight for better wages and conditions, and discovers a power in herself she didn't know she had. Based on a true story, the film earned an Oscar for Sally Field and nomination for best picture.