Thanks to the Loyal Reader who expressed enjoyment over a February post about the AFL-CIO ‘Working Class Heroes’ film recommendations. I’m including more today. Feel free to send reviews of these films or to add suggestions about your favorite Working Class Heroes films.
- Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980, Michael Apted)
Sissy Spacek won the 1982 Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in this film adaptation of the country singer-songwriter’s autobiography. The film was nominated for six other Academy Awards.
- Cradle Will Rock (1999, Tim Robbins)
Tim Robbin’s tour de force tells the story of Orson Welles’ attempt to use the WPA’s Federal Theater Project for a Broadway musical about a steel strike. The film also depicts depression era politics with a broad brush: subplots include anti-communist Congressional hearings; corporate plotting to aid Mussolini’s war machine; and Mexican muralist Diego Rivera’s famous confrontation with a young Nelson Rockefeller over the artist’s Rockefeller Center fresco.
- Devil and Miss Jones (1941, Sam Wood)
Jean Arthur and Robert Cummings star in this film about a department store owner who poses as a shoe salesman to spy on his employees’ attempt to organize a union. Naturally, romance ensues.
- Erin Brockovich (2000, Steven Soderbergh)
Julia Roberts won the 2001 Oscar for Best Actress for her depiction of single mother Erin Brockovich, who lands a job with a solo practice personal injury lawyer (Albert Finney). She unravels a plot by a major corporation to hide its massive contamination of her community with deadly hexavalent chromium. Finney and Soderbergh were also nominated for Academy Awards; the film was nominated for Best Picture.
- Fast Food Nation (2006, Richard Linklater)
The film is a tough look at working conditions and food safety in the slaughterhouses and meat packing plants that supply fast food chains. The multifaceted story line follows a corporate executive investigating reports of contaminated meat, immigrant workers contending with unsafe conditions and sexual abuse, and animal rights activists hatching schemes to save the cattle.
- The Full Monty (1997, Peter Cattaneo)
The film depicts the trials and tribulations of a group of laid off steelworkers, who, desperate to raise some cash, decide to form an all male striptease revue. The guys are not exactly models and they can’t dance, but a supportive female audience cheers them on and insists on the ‘full monty” (frontal nudity)as a finale. Nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, the movie won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
- The Grapes of Wrath (1940, John Ford)
Henry Fonda starred in this adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel about migrant workers fleeing drought and failed farms in Oklahoma only to be met with violence and exploitation in California.
- Gung Ho (1986, Ron Howard)
Management and work cultures collide when a Japanese firm takes over an U.S. automobile factory in this comedy starring Michael Keaton.