Norma Rae

1979 | Drama | 115 minutes | English

Info

Norma Rae is a tired, small-town textile worker trying to support her family on her small salary. She’s a woman with no great education but with a lot of common sense. Also working at the mill is her father Vernon, her mother, Leona, and her husband Sonny. Norma Rae frequently complains to the factory manager that bad working conditions are affecting the health of the workers. She is ignored. A union organizer, Reuben Warshowski, arrives and hopes to unionize the workers. At first Norma Rae is reluctant to get involved. But the death of her father due to lack of care when he has a heart attack at the factory turns her around. She now informs Reuben she wants to be active and starts to promote the union with her workers. However, her relationship with Sonny  becomes strained. Sonny feels Norma Rae is getting too involved with the union and should  focus more on keeping her job and caring for her family. It all boils down to a vote: For the union, against the union. Norma Rae and Reuben stressfully await the results.

Cast
Sally Field (Norma Rae) / Ron Leibman (Reuben) / Pat Hingle (Vernon) / Barbara Baxley (Leona) / Beau Bridges (Sonny) 
Why Stream This Film?
Were unions ever useful? Did they ever do anything favorable for the workers? They are getting a bad rap these days. But back in the 30s and 40s when factories opened in the South because of cheap labor, workers were brutalized by management. Poor working conditions and low salaries injured and even killed many workers. The unions came to their rescue. The most outstanding example is this inspiring film. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 89%
  • Metacritic Score: 61
Accolades
  • Academy Awards: Winner, Best Actress (Sally Field)
  • Cannes Film Festival; Winner, Best Actress (Sally Field); Nominated, Palme d’Or; Winner Technical Grand Prize (Martin Ritt)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Winner, Best Actress (Sally Field)
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Best Actress (Sally Field)
  • The film was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry by the U.S. Library of Congress deeming it “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Now streaming on:

NORMA RAE is that rare entity, an intelligent film with heart. Films about unions haven’t always fared well at the box office, but that didn’t deter director Martin Ritt and his screenwriters from updating the traditional  management -labor struggles to a sharp contemporary setting.

VARIETY staff

NORMA RAE provides Sally Field with the plum role of her career, an opportunity to demonstrate once and for all that she is an actress of dramatic intelligence and force. 
Vincent Canby

The New York Times

This is  Sally Field’s movie. Her performance—hyperbole completely aside—is peerless, one of the major achievements by an actress in the movies any place and any time.
Jay Scott

The Globe and Mail

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