Labor Day Films

Sep 10, 2020 | Newsletter

“Without labor nothing prospers”



Since the beginning, Hollywood has produced films depicting the hardships and tragedies of working people. These films were generally successful because they told a universal story: the human experience. The films were not always perfect and pretty; they were often depressing and painful. The effective films were searing in their depiction of working people who felt they were ignored, shoved aside, or simply not respected as human beings.

And so, on this Labor Day Weekend, let us reflect on all this. A great way, of course, is to stream one (or maybe all) of the films I’m recommending:


How Green Was My Valley​

Huw Morgan is the youngest son in a Welsh coal mining family of nine. His childhood is idyllic: everyone in town gets along; the men working…


Cesar’s Last Fast

The documentary dives deeply into the personal life, vision, and legacy of Cesar Chavez, focusing on his 1988 thirty-six day fast known as the “Fast for Life.”…


The Grapes of Wrath

An adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film, directed by John Ford, follows the excruciating journey of the Joad family from the Oklahoma dust bowl…


Harlan County, USA

Initially, the film intended to follow the attempt of the Miners for Democracy to unionize the miners at the Brookside Mine in Harlan County, Kentucky…


American Factory

Two days before Christmas, in 2008, General Motors closed its plant in Moraine, Ohio, a small town outside Dayton. 10,000 people became unemployed…


Norma Rae

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…


Well, looking for something more cheerful? Try streaming these two:

Modern Times

The film portrays Charlie Chaplin in his Tramp persona as a factory worker employed on an industrial assembly line. Frenetically feeding an inhuman machine, he ends…


The Pajama Game

Based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical by the same name, the story begins with the arrival of Sid, the newly-hired superintendent…


Coming Soon, Can’t Wait

Sep 04: Disney+. The Beatles: Get Back. A documentary that chronicles the Beatles recording of their 1970 album, Let It Be.
Sep 25: Netflix. The Trial of the Chicago 7. Aaron Sorkin directing the seven men charged with conspiracy during the anti-Vietnam war protests.
Dec 18: Platform TBD. West Side Story. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Broadway classic. 
Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. Diana: A Musical
Opening TBD, 2021: Netflix. The Crown. Season 4, late 2020; Season 5, 2021. 


Witty and Wise Quotes About Labor

It takes less time to do a thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)…The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one (Oscar Wilde)…The only thing that sat its way to success was a hen (Sarah Brown)…The problem with doing nothing is that you never know when you’re finished (Groucho Marx)…People are still willing to do an honest day’s work. The problem is they want a week’s pay for it (Joey Adams)…My boss told me to start every presentation with a joke. The first slide was my paycheck (Anonymous)…I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need if I die before four o’clock (Henny Youngman)…Where people are not having fun they seldom produce good work (David Ogilvy)…By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be the boss and work twelve hours a day (Robert Frost)…Behind every successful man is a woman and behind  her is his wife (Groucho Marx).



    My best,


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