Labor movies for Labor Day
by Rod Harmon for HeraldTribune.com
"F.I.S.T." (1978): Sylvester Stallone excelled as a man who joins the Teamsters in the 1930s and works his way up in the organization. It's loosely based on Jimmy Hoffa's life;
"Hoffa" (1992): Depending on whom you ask, Jimmy Hoffa was either the best leader the Teamsters ever had, or a good-for-nothing crook who rode to power on the backs of the people he claimed to be helping.
"The Grapes of Wrath" (1940): Henry Fonda stars as Tom Joad, an ex-con who joins his downtrodden Okie family as they search for a better life in Depression-era California in John Ford's adaptation of the classic novel by John Steinbeck. Fonda's closing dialogue about the plight of the working man is one of the most famous in the history of film.
"How Green Was My Valley" (1941): Although not as strong as "Wrath," director John Ford's movie about a family of Welsh coal miners at the turn of the century won the Oscar for Best Picture.
"Norma Rae" (1979): a pro-union mill worker,
"Matewan" (1987): A harrowing and heartbreaking film, based on the true story of mine workers in 1920s West Virginia who try to form a union and are murdered by thugs hired by the mine company.
Jeremy and Gilby.com added these to there list
On the Waterfront Marlon Brando vs. the corrupt Longshoreman Union Boss. He “coulda been a contender!” and he was. It is the official Jeremy-Gilby-dot-com top Labor Day Movie of all time!
The Replacements Keanu Reeves in his almost-but-not-quite-completely-unlike-”Ted Logan”-role, as a never-has-been quaterback who crosses the NFL-player’s-union picket line.
Blue Collar Richard Prior and Harvey Keitel attempt some Blue Collar crime and attempt to lift the Labor Union treasury.
Labor Start has a list of movies about Labor:
Brassed Off (1996, UK) When government cutbacks threaten a century-old Yorkshire mine, the brass band consisting of the miners and their families struggles to keep it together in the face of economic repression and emotional turmoil
Business as Usual (1987-8, UK) A boutique manager protests when a home-office executive makes a crude pass at an employee. She is fired for her outspokenness, but soon galvanizes the union, her Liverpool neighborhood and the nation to take action.
The Full Monty (1997, UK) this is the one that showed millions around the world the effects of Thatcherism on working class life in the 1980s -- with humor and heart.
Harlan County USA (1976, USA)An award winning film about a 13-month-long strike in Kentucky.
The Killing Floor (1985, USA) Black workers in Chicago's labour movement following the first world war. Based on a true story.
Modern Times (1936, USA)Charlie Chaplin goes to work.
Molly Maguires (1970, USA) Irish mineworkers in Pennsylvania in the 19th century.
Newsies (1992, USA)The 1899 New York newsboys' strike chronicles the "newsies'" struggle with publishing mogul Joseph Pulitzer, their battering at the hands of strike-breakers, and their eventual triumph over the powerful newspaper establishment.
Our Daily Bread (1934, USA)King Vidor's classic about depression-era jobless people setting up a -- for want of a better word -- kibbutz. Best scene: the opening of the irrigation canals.
Roger & Me (1989, USA) Michael Moore takes on General Motors.
Salt of the Earth (1953, USA) In New Mexico, Mexican zinc miners, fed up with the life-threatening conditions under which they work, organize a walk-out. The racist management of the company tries to end the strike, with a variety of extremely violent and cruel tactics. Silkwood (1983, USA) Karen Silkwood lost her life fighting to protect fellow workers from nuclear contamination. This film, starring Meryl Streep, honors her memory.
Office Space (1999)
Take This Job and Shove It (1981)
Gung Ho (1986)
Pajama Game (Videocassette and DVD): 1957 Let Doris Day and John Raitt lead your through the music and dance-filled union disputes at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory.
Media Center Resources for UC Berkley has this list and more:
Bound for Glory (1976) Set against the grim backdrop of depression America, this film joyously celebrates the life of Woody Guthrie, America's great folk balladeer and poet.
Bread and Roses(2000) Maya is an illegal alien who has crossed the U.S. border from Mexico to search for her sister Rosa, and to begin a new life. After being reunited, Rosa gets Maya a job with a janitorial service in a large office building. While working, Maya happens upon Sam Shapiro, a muckraking lawyer and union agitator whom the service-workers' union has assigned to bring its "justice for janitors" campaign to the building. Appalled at the work conditions and unfair labor practices, Maya and Sam team up to fight her employer.
Car Wash(1976) An irreverent but affectionate look at a typical day in a Los Angeles car wash. But what a day! There's a would-be robbery and an assembly line of the weirdest, baddest characters you've ever met and lots of booty-bumping music to pass the hours.
Clockwatchers (1997) Four temporary office workers; shy Iris, brash Margaret, wannabe starlet Paula and pampered Jane become fast friends while temping at a big company where looking busy is a full time occupation. But when their boss hires a new assistant, their jobs -- and their friendship -- are suddenly in danger.
Cradle Will Rock (2000) A kaleidoscopic look at the extraordinary events of 1930s America, from high society to life on the streets in Depression-era New York City. Based on the true story of Orson Welles' controversial musical about a steel strike that was closed down by government decree.
The Efficiency Expert(1992) The Ball's Moccasins company is cash poor, but efficiency expert Erroll Wallace has come to rescue the eccentric family-run enterprise. With his charts, stopwatch and clipboard at the ready, Wallace aimes to streamline this, and maximize that, but can a bunch of cuckoos run a factory like clockwork?
How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1967) A musical comedy that follows J. Pierpont Finch as he makes a meteoric rise from mailroom to junior executive, captures the heart of a pretty office worker and the admiring eye of the president -- all in the morning of his second day at work. It's only a matter of hours 'til his sights are set on the company boardroom.
Maid in Manhattan (2002) A struggling single mom takes a job as a chambermaid at a luxury hotel in New York. She meets and falls in love with a sauve and sophisticated heir to an American political dynasty, who mistakes her for a society woman. When her real identity is revealed, the reality about their separate lives sets in.
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) An veteran of World War II (still haunted by its memories) gets a job in a public relations firm. With added tension at work and increasing personal problems, the rising young executive must decide as his boss did--what is the most important thing in life, family or success?
9 to 5 (Nine to Five) (1980) Three female office workers combine forces to kidnap their deceitful, egotistical, and thoroughly chauvinistic boss and raise office efficiency to an all-time high during his absence.
North Country (2005) Josey Aimes needs a job and goes to work at a Minnesota steel mine after splitting with her violent husband. But the job proves to be almost as harrowing as her marriage. The male miners are resentful of women taking their jobs, so the men verbally abuse and play humiliating pranks on the female miners. After being physically assaulted by a coworker, Josey tries to fight against the harassment, but none of the other women will join her case for fear that things will only get worse.
Swing Shift (1984) In this vivid look at the wartime conditions during WWII that stood society on its head, Kay Walsh and her neighbor, Hazel, go to work in a factory to help in the war effort. Kay Walsh had never held a wrench before but you're never too pretty to learn.
They Drive by Night (1940) Paul Fabrini and his brother Joe are wildcat drivers-- men who buy their trucks on installment plans and then worry that loan sharks will repossess their trucks. As they drive their truck over rough California roads, night after night, their rough life gets even tougher when they get involved with murder and the mob. 94 min. 999:2532
Trading Places (1983) The rich Duke Brothers wager on whether a born loser like Billy Ray Valentine, a hustler from the ghetto, can become as successful as Winthorpe, a wealthy investment executive, if put in the proper environment--and would a prig like Winthorpe turn to a life of crime if he were to lose it all.
Working Girl (1988) A young secretary in New York named Tess McGill has the brains, looks and charm to make it big. All she needs is the right haircut, clothes and job. The opportunity arises when her classy, seductive and treacherous boss breaks a leg skiing.
Night Shift (1982)Ever since two enterprising young men turned the City Morgue into a swinging business, people have been dying to get in.
These are just a few of the movies I found about labor or work, maybe you can think of some to add to this list...if so add them in the comment section.