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Salt of the Earth 1954
Description: The problems the miners strike for contain equity in wages with Anglo workers, and health and security issues.Ramon Quintero supports organize the strike, but at home he treats his wife,Esperanza Quintero,as a second class citizen.Esperanza who is pregnant with their third child,is usually passive but she changes her attitude when the boys are forced to end their picketing by a Taft-Hartley Act injuction.
Released: 14 Mar 1954 Director: Herbert J. Biberman Writers: Michael Wilson (by) Actors: Will Geer, David Wolfe, David Sarvis, Mervin Williams Genres: Drama, History
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Salt of the Earth Reviews:

Salt Of The World is greatest known as a blacklisted movie made by many of the artists whose lives were destroyed by HUAC and the complicity of the movie industry. While the film's very exsistance is a tribute to the determination of the artists to do the right thing and not be silenced, it is much more than that. It is also a moving movie tribute to the underclass of America who suffer greatly due to injustice and inequality. The movie portrays the strike of Chicano mine workers in Fresh Mexico. Their demands, which the company took 15 months to meet, included such outrages as safety, equality, and indoor plumbing. The most interesting aspect of the movie is the method in which the girls of the community are forced to take a leading role. By linking the oppression of the workers to the workers' oppression of their wives, the movie becomes not only a pro-union movie but also a feminist one. The storyline is stirring, and the scenes where the girls are attacked for standing by their boys are unforgetable. Salt of the World probably has more to do with daily American lives than 99 percent of Hollywood films. Its humane portrayal of regular folks fighting for their rights cannot support but awaken the common elements in us all.


Despite the crap the filmmakers had to endure to receive this one done, it took its share of pans when it came out: A pious piece of agitprop full of too-good-to-be-true and too-bad-to-be-believed stick figures, etc etc. Today, it holds up well - first, its test of "real" territories and "real" folks appears more valuable in a documentary sense the farther away we receive from the time it was made. Second, the production values, especially the cinematography - the Blacklist claimed some of the more talented technicians in Hollywood, and Salt of the World benefits richly from their work. Third, the themes remain quite relevant. When we see footage of, tell Bolivian coca growers taking to the roads to overthrow their country's US-sponsored tycoon president, what's so surprising about a community of Mexican American workers standing in solidarity vs an exploitative mining company? When we see Justice for Janitors bringing the owners of LA's office turrets to the table (at least), what's so far-fetched about workers in Salt of the World grabbing a bit of justice for themselves? I should go on.From the vantage mission of 2003, Salt of the World looks like a refreshing change. Agitprop is news to a lot of folks today - it can be strong if done well, yet we're actually all conditioned to think that any form of dramatic art that doesn't center obsessively on the isolated individual is false and/or sentimental. Is Salt of the World really more sentimental than On the Waterfront (made about the same time), in which a corruption struggle on the Fresh Jersey docks serves merely as the scenery for Marlon Brando's emoting about his boxing career?? Come on!!People who stand in solidarity really are powerful. Americans are taught not to think so, but it's when they stand up together, not separately, that they victory the largest victories (and I don't mean in uniform, either).


"The only movie in US history to be blacklisted."That alone is praise!SALT OF THE EARTH, a strong movie shot on a threadbare budget, mostly with local non-actors, was branded as "communist propaganda" during the infamous McCarthy "Red Scare" and was hardly shown in the USA when first released. However, the movie was widely exhibited in Europe, where it was lauded with acclaim. It wasn't until the 1960's and 1970's that anyone in the USA had a decent possibility to see this strong work, and then only in movie festivals, union meetings, or college campuses.It is not propaganda. It is about the struggle for dignity and recognition. The making of this movie it testament to that alone! For fear of destruction by "anti-communist" technicians, the movie stock had to be smuggled into development labs and worked on in secret! Director Herbert J. Bieberman was arrested during filming, and had to give stage directions by letter and telephone while in prison.The movie the U.S. Government didn't wish you see...now part of the National Movie Registry. Consider watching this as driving a stake through Joe McCarthy's heart.



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