[A Partial and Evolving List--based on setting and treatment,
and the way work and class culture are integral to the theme]
Prepared by Larry Smith,
Firelands College of Bowling Green State University
Bottom Dog Press, Inc.
Working Class Subcategories & Criterion:
C=Crusade for Social Justice  /  S=Salt of the Earth Portrayal
R=Social Realism  /    U=Union and Labor Conflicts
W=Work Study  /   WC=Working Class Culture
CC=Class Conflict  /  D=Down-and-Outers Portrayal
B=Critique of Big Business  /      E=Environmental Portrayal (Exploitative)
*To add titles, contact Smith at Lsmithdog@smithdocs.net
[Last revised Feb. 5, 2009]

======================== 1900'S ==============================

A Corner in Wheat (1909; dir.: D.W. Griffith; cast: Frank Powell, Grave Henderson; subj.: an early editorial short on the dangers of capitalism) [C-CC-B]

=======================  1920'S  ==============================

The Gold Rush (1925; dir. Charlie Chaplin; cast: Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain; subj.: Chaplin's Little Tramp and dance hall girl fight for survival in the Yukon) [S-D] (mining)

The Metropolis (1926, German; dir. Fritz Lang; cast: Brigette Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Froelich; subj.: silent film fantasy of mechanized future society, as wealthy young man joins with oppressed workers in revolt; reissued in 1984) [C-CC-B] (factory work)

The Crowd (1928; dir. King Vidor; cast: Eleanor Boardman, James Murray, Bert Roach; subj.:story of young couple's struggles to survive)

================= 1930'S ===================

The Blue Angel (1930-German; dir. Josef von Sternberg; cast: Marlene Deitrich, Emil Jannings, Kurt Geron, Rosa Valetti; subj.: classic story of a stuffy professor who falls in love with cabaret singer who ruins his life; based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrath.)[W-CC-E] (singer, teacher)

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932; dir. Melvyn LeRoy; cast: Paul Muni; subj. wrongfully convicted man serves on a Southern chain gang) [C-R-WC-D]

Wild Boys on the Road (1933; dir. William A. Wellman; cast: Frankie Darro, Edwin Philips, Rochelle Hudson; subj.: Youths take to the road during Great Depression.) [WC-R-CC-D]

Man's Castle (1933; dir. Frank Borzage; cast: Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young; subj: Depression tale of rough man who takes in lovely homeless girl) [S-CC-D]

Our Daily Bread (1934; dir. King Vidor; cast: Tom Keene, Karen Morley, John Qualen, Barbara Pepper; subj.: bold tale of struggles of communal agrarian group) [C-S-R-W] (farming)

Riffraff (1935; dir. J. Walter Ruben; cast: Spencer Tracey, Jean Harlow, Una Merkel, Mickey Rooney; subj: folks working in fishing industry struggle with union and management) [U-D-E] (fishing)

Black Legion (1936; dir. Archie Mayo; cast: Humphrey Bogart, Dick Foran, Ann Sheridan, Helen Flint; subj.: stark portrait of autoworkers and Michigan incident involving terrorist group called the Black Legion) [U-W-WC] (autoworkers)

Modern Times (1936; dir. Charlie Chaplin; cast: Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bargman;subj.: Machine age is portrayed and attacked by rebellious worker in Chaplin's last silent film) [C-S-U-CC-D-B] (factory)

My Man Godfried (1936; dir. Gregory La Cava; cast: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Gail Patrick, Alice Brady; subj.: Wealthy woman hires supposed tramp Powell as butler only to learn of money and values from him. Remand: 1957 dir.: Henry Koster; cast: June Allyson and David Niven) [C-S-CC-D-B] (out of work)

Mr Deeds Goes to Town (1936; dir. Frank Capra; cast Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur; sub.: Smalltown man inherits millions and goes to New York City where he confronts greedy lawyers and uses money for commoners without jobs or farms. Excellent speeches betray a socialist viewpoint.) [C-S-CC-D-B] (out or work)

The Citadel (1938-British; dir. King Vidor; cast: Rex Harrison, Emlyn Williams; subj.: Welsh miners seek adequate safety and healthcare) [C-S-U] (mining)

Of Mice and Men (1939; dir. Lewis Milestone; cast: Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney, Jr. Charles Bickford, Berry Field, Roman Bohnen; subj. John Steinbeck's play and novel adapted for film, treating tragic relationship of migrant workers George and Lenny; music by Aaron Copeland. Remade 1981; dir. Reza Badiyi; cast: Robert Blake, Randy Quaid, Lew Ayres, Cussie Yates. Remade 1992; dir. Gary Senise; cast: Gary Senise, John Malkovich, Sherilyn Fenn; screenplay by Horton Foote) [S-R-W-CC-D] (migrant labor)

======================== 1940'S ===========================

The Grapes of Wrath (1940; dir. John Ford; cast: Henry Fonda, Jane Darnell, John Caradine;adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1939 novel of dustbowl Oakies headed west to promise land of California where they find American Dream gone sour) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-D-B] (migrant labor)

They Drive by Night (1940; dir. Roal Walsh; cast: George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart; independent truck driving brothers struggle with deadlines, police, and women) [WC-E] (trucking)

Meet John Doe (1941; dir. Frank Capra; Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, Spring Byington, James Gleason, Gene Lockhart; subj.: Populist themes emerge out of story of man hired to launch promotion of corrupt politician) [C-S-CC-B] (out of work & politics)

Sullivan's Travels (1944; dir.: Preston Sturges; cast: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick, William Demarest; subj.: Movie director looks for new content in life of down- and-out as hobo, only to discover meaning) [C-S-WC-CC-D-B] (out of work & film)

The Corn Is Green (1945; dir.: Irving Rapport; cast: Bette Davis, Nigel Bruce, John Dall; Wealthy Miss Moffat seeks to reform Welsh coal-mining village through a chosen miner) [CC-S-WC-CC] (mining)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946; dir. William Wyler; cast: Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Myrna Loy, Frederick March; subj.: returning veterans from WW II reintegrate with hometown lives, yet struggle with war wounds; won 7 Academy Awards) [S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (military veterans, sales)

Bitter Rice (1948-Italian; dir. Giuseppe De Santis; cast: Silvana Mangano, Doris Dowling, Vittorio Gassman; subj.: social realism in treating migrant rice workers in Po Valley) [S-R-W-WC] (migrant labor)

The Bicycle Thief (1949-Italian; dir. Vittorio De Sica; cast: Lamberto Maggiorani, Lianella Carell, Enzo Staiola; subj.: classic realism in treating working man's life during the week his beloved and essential bicycle is stolen) [S-R-W-WC] (delivery)

The Set-Up (1949; dir. Robert Wise; cast: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias; subj.:
washed-up fighter, Ryan, resists quitting or fixed fights.)
[R-W-B] (prizefighting)

======================== 1950'S  ==========================

The Glass Menagerie (1950; dir.: Irving Rapper; cast: Jayne Wyman, Kirk Douglas, Gertrude Lawrence, Arthur Kennedy; subj.: Tennessee Williams play of Southern family facing emotional strain and financial decline. 1973; dir.: Anthony Harvey; cast: Katherine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Joanna Miles, Michael Moriarty. 1987; dir. Paul Newman; cast: Joanne Woodward, John Malkovich, Karen Allen, James Naughton) [R-WC-CC] (sailing & shipping)

The Harlem Globetrotters (1951; dir. Phil Brown; cast: Thomas Gomez, Dorothy Daindridge, Bill Walker, Angela Clark; subj.: documentary style tale of exhibitionist black basketball team as it struggles for recognition in the racist 1950's) [R-W-CC] (sports)

Death of a Salesman (1951; dir. Laslo Benedek; cast: Frederick Marsh, Cameron Mitchell, Mildred Dunnock; subj.: Arthur's Miller's Pulitzer Prize winning drama of middle-aged salesman facing age and business decline. 1985; dir. Volker Schlondorff; cast: Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Charles Durning, Kate Reid) [R-W-WC-CC-B] (sales)

The Salt of the Earth (1953; dir. Herbert Biberlman; cast: Will Geer, David Wolfe, Rosaura Revueltas; subj.: New Mexico mineworkers are abused for going on strike; strong women characters help them survive; docudrama tone; film resulted in blacklisting of Geer, Biberman, producer Paul Jarrico, and screenwriter Michael Wilson) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (mining)

On the Waterfront (1954; dir. Elia Kazan; screenplay by Budd Schulberg, based on harbor labor conflicts from articles by Malcolm Johnson; cast: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint; subj.: struggle for character in a corrupt longshoreman's world, pits ex-fighter and priest against the mob takeover of union) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (longshoreman)

East of Eden (1955; dir. Elia Kazan; cast: James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Jo Van Fleet, Burl Ives; subj.: adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel of two brothers in rivalry for father's love in the shipping business) [W-CC] (shipping)

Marty (1955; dir. Delbert Mann; cast: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Joe Mantell; subj.: simple Bronx butcher finds love in neighborhood girl and Paddy Chayefsky's fine filmscript)[S-R-W-WC] (butcher)

Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956; dir. Robert Wise; cast: Paul Newman, Piere Angeli, Everett Sloane, Eileen Heckart; subj.: film biography of boxer Rocky Graziano's career, based on Graziano's autobiography) [R-W-WC-B] (prizefighting)

The Catered Affair (1956; dir.: Richard Brooks; cast: Bette Davis, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald, Rob Taylor; subj.: Paddy Chayefsky story of working class cabbie)
[U-WC] (transportation)

The Pajama Game (1957; dir. George Abbott; cast: Doris Day, John Raitt; subj.: musical about workers in a pajama factory who fight for a living wage, choreography by Bob Fosse) [W-WC-U]

Desk Set (1957: dir. Walter Lang; cast: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Blondell; subj.: computerization in the office of 1950's; women outsmart men and machines) [W-B-E] (secretarial)

Look Back in Anger (1958-British; dir. Tony Richardson; cast: Richard Burton, Mary Ure, Claire Bloom, Donald Pleasence; subj.: adaptation of John Osborne's portrait of British market-stall opperator's battles with society and self) [R-WC-CC-E] (sales) 

======================== 1960'S  ===========================

A Raisin in the Sun (1961; dir. Daniel Petrie; cast: Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands; adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play treating black Chicago family as they struggle to survive; Hansberry did the screenplay.)[C-S-R-WC-CC-B] (teacher, sales)

The Americanization of Emily (1964; dir. Arthur Hiller; cast: James Garner, Julie Andrews, Melvyn Douglas, James Coburn; subj.: WW II military base romance between officer and nurse caught up in military gamesmanship; Paddy Chayefsky filmscript)[W-CC] (military and nursing)

Nothing But a Man (1964; dir. Michael Roemer; cast: Ivan Dixon, Julie Harris, Abbey Lincoln; subj.: Young Black man struggles to survive in repressive South of 1960's, with the help of a woman.)

Alice's Restaurant (1969; dir.: Arthur Penn; cast: Arlo Guthrie, Pat Quinn, James Broderick; subj.: based on Guthrie's talking song of being arrested and inducted for littering) [WC-CC-D-B] (unemployed, military)

Goodbye, Columbus (1969: dir. Larry Peerce; cast: Richard Benjamin, Ali McGraw, Jack Klugman; subj. adaptation of Philip Roth's novel portraying urban and suburban Jewish families) [R-WC-CC] (student, librarian, sales)

They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969; dir. Sydney Pollack; based on 1935 novel by Horace McCoy; cast: Jayne Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Gig Young; desperate attempt to win marathon dance contest.) [R-S-WC-CC-D]

Take the Money and Run (1969; dir. Woody Allen; cast: Woody Allen, Janet Margolin, Marcel Hillaire; subj.: uses documentary style to tell story of compulsive thief) [D-E] (thief)

Midnight Cowboy (1969; dir. John Schlessinger; cast: Dustin Hoffman, John Voight, Sylvia Miles; subj.: dishwashing cowboy comes to NYC to become a sexual stud, yet meets cold reality of prostitution and homelessness shared with city friend. Oscar for picture, director, screenplay; based on novel by James Leo Herlihy, was given early "X" rating)[S-R-W-CC-D] (unemployed, male prostitute)

======================== 1970'S =============================

Rabbit Run (1970; dir. Jack Smight; cast: James Caan, Carrie Snodgress, Jack Albertson, Anjanette Comer; subj. Adaptation of John Updike's novel from his Rabbit saga, treats dejected worker's struggles to find any meaning in his ruthless life) [R-W-WC-CC] (factory, sales)

The Molly Maguires (1970; dir. Martin Ritt; cast: Sean Conery, Richard Harris, Samantha Eggar, Frank Findlay; subj.: 19th Century Irish-American miners strike and form secret organization for control of lives over management) [C-S-U-W-WC] (mining)

Sometimes a Great Notion (1971; dir.: Paul Newman; cast: Paul Newman, Lee Remick, Michael Sarrazin, Henry Fonda; subj. Film adaptation of Ken Kesey novel about family of rugged independent Stamper family and their struggles against union and big lumber industry)[C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (logging)

Boxcar Bertha (1972; dir. Martin Scorsese; cast: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine; union yarn set during Depression, woman joining forces with organizer-lover) [C-R-D-U-B] (organizer)

The New Centurions (1972; dir, Richard Fleischer; cast: George C. Scott, Stacy Keach, Jane Alexander, Scott Wilson; sensitive portrayal of rookie cops on Los Angeles police force as they struggle with work and family life, Stirling Siliphant's filmscript based on Joseph Wambaugh novel) [R-W-WC] (policework)

Fat City (1972; dir.: John Huston; cast: Stacey Keach, Jeff Bridges, Susan Tyrrell, Candy Clark; adaptation of Leonard Gardener's novel about relationship between two prize fighter at beginning and end of career) [S-R-W-WC-D] (prizefighting)

Sounder (1972; dir. Martin Ritt; cast: Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield, Kevin Hooks, Carmen Mathews; subj.: 1930's sharecropping family saga in rural Louisianna) [C-S-W-WC] (farming)

Emperor of the North Pole (1973; dir. Richard Aldrich; cast: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine; subj: hobo subculture during the Great Depression of 1930's) [WC-D] (hobo culture)

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974; dir.: Martin Scorsese; cast: Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson, Diane Ladd; subj.: single mom's quest to find herself lands her in western dinner) [S-R-W-WC] (waitressing)

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974; dir. Ted Katcheff; cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Micheline Lanctot, Jack Warden, Randy Quaid; subj.: Young Jewish man in the 1940's hustles everyone including his Canadian girlfriend, alienating everyone in the film except the audience. [S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (young street hustler, film maker, maid)

The Migrants (1974; dir.: Tom Gries; cast: Cloris Leachman, Ron Howard, Sissy Spacek, Cindy Williams; subj.: depicts the plight of migratory workers, adapted from Tennessee Williams' drama, produced for television) [C-S-W-WC] (migrant farming)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975; dir. Milos Forman; cast: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield, Brad Dourif, Danny De Vito; subj.: film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel of social misfit committed to insane asylum where he turns inmates into organized rebellion against the system) [C-S-R-U-D-B] (unemployed, nursing)

Swept Away…(1975; Italian, dir. Lina Wertmuller; cast: Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangela Melato; Sicilian deckhand on deserted island with rich woman owner reverses dominance roles)
[S-W-CC] (deckhand)

Bound for Glory (1976; dir. Hal Ashby; Cast: David Carradine, Melinda Dillon, Randy Quaid; Subj.: treats folksinger Woody Guthrie's on the road and union organizing life) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (folksinger)

Taxi Driver (1976; dir.: Martin Scorsese; cast: Robert DeNiro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster, Peter Doyle; NYC taxi driver and Viet Nam veteran goes mad with stalking women and violence) [R-W-CC-D-B] (taxi driver, secretary)

Rocky I (1976; dir. John G. Avildsen; cast: Sylvester Stallone; Burgess Meredith; Talia Shire, Burt Young; subj.: story of prize fighter who makes a comeback to the top through spirit and hard work; won Oscar for best picture, director, editing; followed by four sequels) [C-W-WC-CC-D-B] (prizefighter)

Harlan County, U.S.A. (1977; dir. Barbara Kopple; subj.: Academy Award winning documentary of Kentucky mine workers'strike against the Eastover Mining Company) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-B] (coal mining, policework)

The Goodbye Girl (1977; dir. Herbert Ross; cast: Richard Dreyfus, Marsha Mason, Quinn Cummings; subj.: adaptation of Neil Simon's play about struggling actors--single mom and soon to be beau) [W-WC] (acting, dancing)

F.I.S.T. (1978; dir. Norman Jewison; cast: Sylvester Stallone, Rod Steiger, Peter Boyle, Melinda Dillon; subj.: story of labor leader and struggles with Teamsters Union members; screenplay by Joe Esterhas and Sylvester Stallone) [U-W-B-E] (trucking)

Blue Collar (1978; dir. Paul Schrader; cast: Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor & Yaphet Kotto; subj. Workers rob American Auto Workers' Union in protest) [R-U-W-WC-B] (autoworkers)

The Buddy Holly Story (1978; dir. Steve Rush; cast: Gary Busey, Charles Martin Smith, Don Stroud, Maria Richwine; subj.: biographical story of teen rocker's rise from Lubbock, Texas to national stardom, then early death) [R-W-WC] (rock singer)

Coming Home (1978; dir. Hal Ashby; cast: Jon Voight, Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern; subj.:Wounded Viet Nam veteran returns home to speak the evils of the war and to begin again; reveals the big business of the military) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (military veteran, nursing)

Convoy (1978; dir. Sam Peckinpah; cast: Kris Kristofferson, Ali McGraw, Ernest Borgnine; subj.: truckers ban together in convoy to keep control of their lives) [U-W-E] (trucking)

The Deer Hunter (1978; dir. Michael Cimino; cast: Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, John Savage; subj.: examines hellish worlds of Vietnam War and OhioValley steeltown with some depth; won Oscar for best picture) [C-S-R-W-WC-D-B] (steel workers, military)

Days of Heaven (1978; dir.: Terrence Malick; cast: Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, Sam Shepard,
Linda Mantz; subj.: saga of migrant workers at turn of century--love triangle with land owner compromises their relationship; beautifully filmed in Midwest)
[S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (migrant workers)

Breaking Away (1979; dir. Peter Yates; Cast: Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern; subj.: reveals rivalry and class distinctions between college students and working class "Cutters" in Bloomington, Indiana) [S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (students, stone cutters)

Norma Rae (1979; dir. Martin Ritt; cast: Sally Field, Beau Bridges, Ron Leibman, Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley; subj.: Field plays real-life Southern textile worker who is won over to unionization by northern labor organizer, then become local champion; Field won Oscar for this.) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-B] (textile factory worker, union organizer)

Elvis (1979; dir. John Carpenter; cast: Kurt Russell, Shelley Winters, Pat Hingle, Season Hubley; subj.: biographical portrait of rock n' roll king Elvis Presley during youthful rise in 1969) [W-WC-E] (rock singer)

The Wooblies (1979; dir. Stewart Bird and Deborah Shaffer; documentary of International Workers of the World history intermixing archival footage and present day interviews with old Wooblies) [C-S-R-W-WC-B] (various laboring work, union organizer)

The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal (1979; dir. Mel Stuart; cast: Tom Bosley, David Dukes, Tovah Feldshuh, Lauren Frost; subj.: retelling of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory abuse and fire of March 25, 1911) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (seamstress work)

======================= 1980'S ============================

Coal Miner's Daughter (1980; dir. Michael Apted; cast: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D'Angelo, Levon Helm; subj.: life story of country singer Loretta Lynn, rise from poverty to fame and identity struggle) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (singer, coal mining)

Tell Me a Riddle (1980; dir. Lee Grant; cast: Lila Kedrova, Melvyn Douglas, Brooke Adams; subj.: film adaptation of Tillie Olsen's celebrated story of working class grandparents adjusting to age, poverty, and approaching death) [S-R-U-WC] (aging working class)

Inside Moves (1980: dir.: Richard Donner; cast: John Savage, David Morse, Diana Scarwid, Harold Russell; subj.: group of misfit friends clustered around neighborhood bar struggle to stay afloat emotionally.) [S-R-WC-D-CC] (bartender, basketball player, down-and-outers)

9 to 5 (1980; dir. Colin Higgins; cast: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman; subj.: secretarial revolt against harassing boss; comedy based on a story by screenwriter Patricia Resnick) [C-W-WC-CC-B] (secretarial pool)

Raging Bull (1980; dir. Martin Scorsese; cast: Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Cathy Moriarity, Frank Vincent; subj.: tough life portrait of prizefighter Jake LaMotta; strong on tone and detail) [R-W-WC-CC-B] (boxing)

Ragtime (1981; dir. Milos Foreman; cast: James Cagney, Moses Gunn, Elizabeth McGovern, Brad Douris, Mary Steenburgen, Mandy Patinkin; subj.: adaptation of E. L. Doctorow's semi-historical saga of America's early 1900's in which rich moguls and immigrants and African Americans confront. [C-S-R-U-WC-CC-B] (street vender, prostitute, police, musician, firemen)

Take This Job and Shove It (1981; dir. Gus Trikonis; cast: Robert Hays, Art Carney, Barbara Hershey; subj.: Man returns to hometown brewery with orders to modernize and downsize, and experiences a conversion amongst townspeople; titled after Johnny Paycheck country tune) [S-W-B-E] (brewery work)

Coal Mining Women (1982; dir. Elizabeth Barret; documentary of Colorado coal miners; treats gender issues) [C-S-R-U-B] (coal mining)

Diner (1982; dir. Barry Levinson; cast: Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Ricky Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Paul Riser; subj.: 1950's group of young men who hang out at Baltimore diner) [WC-CC-D-E] (ambiguous job treatment)

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982; dir.: Taylor Hackford; cast: Richard Gere, Debra Winger, Luis Gossett, Jr.; subj.: misfits marry as he enrolls in Naval Officer's Candidate School) [W-WC-CC] (military)

Silkwood (1983; dir. Mike Nichols; cast: Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell, Cher, Diana Scarwid, Craig T. Nelson; subj.: Union activist, Karen Silkwood, fights for safe working conditions at atomic energy plant) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (nuclear industry labor)

Heart of Steel (1983; dir. Donald Wrye; cast: Peter Strauss, Pamela Reed, John Doucette, John Goodman; subj.: contemporary setting in Ohio Valley, as steel mill layoffs force workers to struggle to get by; screenplay by Gary DeVore) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-D-B-E] (steel workers)

Flashdance (1983; dir.: Adrian Lyne; cast: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Lilia Skala; subj.: woman welder-strip dancer seeks romance and career as dancer) [W-WC-CC-E] (steel workers, strip dancing)

Daniel (1983; dir.: Sidney Lumet; cast: Timothy Hutton, Mandy Patinkin, Lindsay Crouse, Edward Asner; subj.: adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel based on the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg...set in 1960's protest atmosphere.) [C-S-R-WC-CC-B] (college student, ambiguous job treatement)

Educating Rita (1983-British; dir. Lewis Gilbert; cast: Michael Caine, Julie Walters; subj.: adaptation of Willy Russell's play about young working class wife going to university where she becomes entangled in life of boozing professor of literature)[C-WC-CC] (hair dresser, waitress, college student and professor)

All the Right Moves (1983; dir. Michael Chapman; cast: Tom Cruise, Craig T.Nelson, Lea Thompson; subj.: high school football player struggles to leave local steel mills future for one at college) [S-R-W-WC-E] (steel workers, high school student)

El Norte (1983; dir. Gregory Nava; cast: Trinidad Silva, Zaide Silvia Guterrez, Rodrigo Puebla; subj.: saga of brother and sister who come north from violent torn Guatemala. Struggle to migrate is followed by struggle to survive in El Norte, America; written and produced by Anna Thomas for the PBS American Playhouse Series) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (migratory labor)

Mr. Mom (1983; dir.: Stan Dragoti; cast: Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, Ann Jillian, Christopher Lloyd; subj.: Mom goes to work and out-of-work Dad takes care of house and family) [W-WC-D-E] (out of work, played mostly for comedy)

Tender Mercies (1983; Bruce Beresford; cast: Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Berry Buckley, Wilford Brimly, Ellen Barkin; subj. Country singer struggles to put his life together with help of young woman and her son; original screenplay won Oscar for Horton Foote) [S-R-W-WC] (country singer, single mom)

Places in the Heart (1984; dir. Robert Benton; cast: Sally Field, Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris Amy Madigan, Danny Glover; subj. Small Texas town in Depression 1930's where young widow struggles to survive on cotton farm; cinematographer Nestor Almendros; Benton's screenplay) [C-S-R-W-WC-B] (cotton farming)

Once Upon a Time in America (1984; dir. Sergio Leone; cast: Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams, Tuesday Weld; subj.: historical intermeshing stories of Jewish youths on New York's Lower East Side as they rise to lives of love and crime as the Jewish mafia; based on Harry Grey's novel The Hoods) [S-S-W-WC-CC-D-B] (jobs around bars and crime scene)

Swing Shift (1984; dir. Jonathan Demme; cast: Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti, Ed Harris, Jack Ward; subj.: story of women riveters at aircraft factory) [U-W-WC-E] (aircraft factories)

Birdy (1984; dir.: Alan Parker; cast: Nicholas Cage, Matthew Modine; subj.: two veterans from
Viet Nam recuperate, one in a mental institution with severe withdrawal with flashbacks to their working class family life in Philadelphia; based on novel by William Wharton)
[S-WE-D] (Vietnam Veterans)

Streetwise (1984; dir. Martin Bell; documentary of sad lives of street children of Seattle; a harrowing and heartbreaking study of eight main characters) [S-R-D] (prostitution, out of work runaways)

The River (1984; dir. Mark Rydell; cast: Sissy Spacek, Mel Gibsen, Scott Glenn; subj.: family struggles to work and keep farm despite threats from river; screenplay by Robert Dillon) [C-S-W-WC-B] (farming)

The Doll Maker (1984; dir. Daniel Petrie; cast: Jane Fonda, Levon Helm, Amanda Plummer; subj.: adaptation of Harriet Arnow's Appalachian saga of a Kentucky family who moves to Detroit of work during WW II.) [S-R-U-W-WC-D-B] farming, factory woodcarving craft)

Country (1984; dir.: Richard Pearce; cast: Jesica Lange, Sam Shepard, Wilford Brimley; subj.: couple struggles to keep family farm from foreclosure) [C-S-W-WC-B] (farming)

Sweet Dreams (1985; dir.: Karel Reisz; cast: Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Ann Wedgeworth; subj. film biography of country singer's struggles with relationships and career) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (country singer)

Alamo Bay (1985; dir. Louis Malle; cast: Ed Harris & Amy Madigan; subj: Texas Gulf Coast fishing meets migration of Vietnamese immigrants) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (shipping)

The Color Purple (1985; dir.: Steven Spielberg; cast: Whoppi Goldberg, Danny Glover,Margaret Avery; subj.: adaptation of Alice Walker's acclaimed novel of poor black girl who gains self-esteem and control of her life) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (farming, seamstress, singer)

The Women of Summer (1986; dir. Suzanne Bauman and Rita Heller; documentary of 1920's Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry as present day interviews are used to reflect back on this period of Labor Schools in America) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-B] (Labor College for working class women--teachers and students)

Hoosiers (1986; dir.  Angelo Pizzo, David Anspaugh; cast: Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, Dennis Hopper; based on true story of small Indiana town and its basketball team and coach). [S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (high school coach and families of players)

Gung Ho (1986; dir.: Ron Howard; cast: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, Mimi Rogers, John Turturro; subj.: Japanese owners reopen American auto plant in economically desperate town and find they must work together) [U-W-WC-CC-B] (auto industry workers)

Working Girls (1986; dir. Lizzie Borden; cast; Louise Smith, Ellen McElduff, Amanda Goodwin; subj.: depicts a New York City brothel in docu-drama style.) [R-W-WC] (prostitution)

Native Son (1986; dir. Jerrold Freedman; cast: Carroll Baker, Matt Dillon, Victor Love [as Bigger Thomas], Elizabeth McGovern, Opra Winfrey; subj. African American young man struggles in racist 1930's Chicago. Richard Wright's novel is co-produced with PBS's for American Playhouse series) [C-S-R-WC-CC]

Wall Street (1987; dir. Oliver Stone; cast: Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, Sean Young; young NY broker makes it big on Wall Street, only to find the cost in integrity, money and work addictions and "insider trading") [C-W-WC-CC-B] (Wall street trader)

La Bamba (1987; dir.: Luis Valdez; cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Esai Morales, Rosana De Soto; subj.: story of Mexican-American rock singer Richie Valens and his tragic death) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (rock singer)

Business as Usual (1987-British; cast: Glenda Jackson, John Thaw, Cathy Tyson; subj.: charge of sexual harassment, Transit and General Workers Union, police brutality...) [S-R-U-W-WC-B] (transportation)

The Business of America (1987; dirs.: Larry Adelman, Lawrence Daressa, Bruce Schmelechen; subj.: documentary of decline of U.S. steel industry through its workers.) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (steel industry)

Radio Days (1987; dir. Woody Allen; cast: Woody Allen, Julie Kavner, Diane Weist, Josh Mostel, Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello; subj.: set in 1940's Queens working class family, the film is rich in family rites and tales) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (taxi driver, secretary, working class family)

End of the Line (1987; dir. Jay Russell; cast: Wilford Brimley, Levon Helm, Mary Steenburgen, Barbara Berrie; subj.: railroaders fight to keep the line open) [C-R-W-WC-CC-B] (railroading)

Matewan (1987; dir.: John Sayles; cast: Chris Cooper, Will Oldham, Mary McDonnell, Bob Gunton, James Earl Jones; subj.: 1920's coal mining strike in Matewan, West Virginia is dramatized by John Sayles excellent filmscript and directing)[C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-D-B] (coal miners and police)

Tin Men (1987; dir. Barry Levinson; cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Danny DeVito, Barbara Hershey, John Mahoney; subj.: setting is Levinson's home grounds 1960's Baltimore, as aluminum siding salesmen hustle the home crowd) [R-W-CC-B-E] (Sales, aluminum siding)

Elvis and Me (1988; dir. Larry Peerce; cast: Dale Midkiff, Susan Walters, Billy Green Bush, Jon Cypher; subj.: biographical story of rocker Elvis Presley as told from wife Priscilla Presley's point of view) [R-W-WC] (rock singer)

Bull Durham (1988; dir. Richard Shelton; cast: Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon; subj.: rough life of minor league baseball team and its fans) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (minor league baseball)

Cocktails (1988; dir. Rober Donaldson; cast: Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Shue; subj.: young bartenders tries to find self and career) [R-W-WC-CC] (bar tenders )

Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988; dir. Francis Ford Coppola; cast: Jeff Bridges, Martin Landau, Joan Allen, Dean Stockwell; subj. Biogrphical portrait of Preston Tucker and his bouts with the auto industry and government)[C-S-W-CC-B] (auto industrialist)

Bird (1988; dir. Clint Eastwood; cast: Forrest Whitaker, Diane Venora, Michael Zelniker, Samuel E. Ward; subj.: biographical tale of legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker covering his self-destructive drug addiction and battles and influence within the jazz world)[R-W-WC-CC-D] (jazz musician)

High Hopes (1988 British; dir. Mike Leigh; cast: Philip Davis, Ruth Sheen, Edna Dore; subj.: working class couple from the 1970's struggle to survive on earnings as a messenger. S-R-WC-CC] (messenger)

Dominick and Eugene (1988; dir. Robert M. Young; cast: Tom Hulce, Ray Liotta, Jamie Lee Curtis; subj.: twin brothers, one an intern, the other a retarded garbage collector, care for each other in Pittsburgh setting) [S-R-U-W-WC-CC-B] (nurse, doctor, trash collector)

Cinema Paradiso (1988; dir. Giuseppe Tornatore; cast: Jacques Perrin, Salvatore Cascio, Mario Leonardi, Philipe Noiret; subj.: semi-autobiographical story of director Tornatore's youth as projectionist assistant in small Italian town; won Academy Award for best foreign film) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (film projectionist, director)

The Milagro Beanfield Wars (1988; dir.: Robert Redford; cast: Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga, Melanie Griffith, John Heard; subj.: adaptation of John Nichols' novel of New Mexico struggle between landowners and rugged workers) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (farmers)

Mystic Pizza (1988; dir.: Donald Petrie; cast: Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, Lili Taylor, Vincent D'Onofrio; subj.: Trio of waitresses discover life in small town pizzeria)[W-WC-CC] (Waitresses and cooks)

Working Girl (1988; dir. Mike Nichols; cast: Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigorney Weaver, Joan Cusack; romantic comedy about secretary with ambition, struggle with corporate business ladder) [C-W-CC-B] (secretaries)

American Dream (1989; dir. Barbara Kopple; documentary of Hormel Meat Packers' Strike in Austin, Minnesota)[C-S-R-U-W-WC-B] (meat packers)

Wait Until Spring, Bandini ( 1989-Belgium-France-Italy; dir. Dominique Druddere; cast: Burt Young, Renata Vanni, Joe Mantegna, Faye Dunaway; subj.: based on John Fante's biographical novel of his youth in 1920's Colorado as Italian-American family struggle through winters on father's bricklaying job) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (bricklayer)

Born on the Fourth of July (1989; dir. Oliver Stone; Cast: Tom Cruise, William Defoe, Caroline Kava; subj.: wounded Vietnam vet's questioning America, based on real-life saga of author Ron Kovic)[C-R-WC-CC-D-B(gov.)] (military)

Roger and Me (1989; dir. Michael Moore; documentary/comedy. Filmmaker/Narrator Moore tries to track down General Motors chairman Roger Smith to address closings in Flint, Michigan; lively and heavily ironic treatment in documentary style. It was followed in 1992 by Moore's 24 minute short, PETS OR MEAT: THE RETURN TO FLINT.)[C-S-R-U-W-WC-D-B] (out of work auto workers)

Do the Right Thing (1989; dir. Spike Lee; cast: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Spike Lee; subj.: tension in black and Italian community in Brooklyn) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (pizza cook and delivers)

Driving Miss Daisy (1989; dir. Bruce Beresford; cast: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd; subj.: adaptation of Alfred Uhry's stage play about how simple black man as chauffeur and old Southern woman become deep friends.) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC] (Chauffeur)

======================= 1990's =============================

White Palace (1990; dir. Luis Mandoki; cast: Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Jason Alexander, Kathy Bates; subj. Young businessman becomes swept up in romance with waitress at White Palace Hamburgers, based on Glenn Savan's novel) [S-R-WC-CC-B-E] (watress)

Rising Son (1990; dir. John David Coles; cast: Brian Dennehy, Piper Lurie, Matt Damon; subj.: working class family struggles to survive the collapse of Georgia town factory) [S-R-W-WC] (factory workers)

Out of Darkness: the Mine Workers' Story (1990; dir. Barbara Kopple and Bill Davis, music by Tom Juravich, documentary) [WC-W-U-B] (coal miners)

Avalon (1990; dir. Barry Levinson; cast: Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Joan Plowright, Lou Jacobi; subj.: loose autobiography of Levinson family's coming to America, starting businesses and families in Baltimore) [S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (sales)

To Sleep with Anger (1990; dir. Charles Burnett; cast: Paul Butler, Danny Glover, Carl Lumbly, Mary Alice; subj. African American working class family struggles with wicked visitor in Los Angeles home) [WC-D] (drifter)

Come See the Paradise (1990; dir. Alan Parker; cast: Dennis Quaid, Tamlyn Tomita, Sab Shimono; subj: Japanese American internment in U.S. camps) [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC] (fish packing industry)

Cadillac Man (1990; dir. Roger Donaldson; cast: Robin Willians, Tim Robbins, Lori Petty; subj.:
aggressive car salesman's struggles to stay afloat with his life.)
[W-B-E] (car salesman)

The Long Walk Home (1990; dir. Richard Pearce; cast: Sissy Spacek, Whoopi Goldberg, Dwight Schultz; narrated by Mary Steenburgen; mid-1950's racial tensions in segregated South as it affects middle class woman and her hard-working Black housekeeper.) [C-S-R-U(Civil Rights demonstrations)-W-WC-CC] (domestic)

Life Is Sweet (1991-British; dir. Mike Leigh; cast: Alison Steadman, Jim Broadbent; subj.: bittersweet story of twin daughters in working class family--slice of life.) [WC-CC]

Backdraft (1991; dir. Ron Howard; cast: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Scott Glenn; subj.: firefighters battle flames and each other)[S-R-W-WC] (firefighting)
Frankie and Johnny (1991; dir. Gary Marshall; cast: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfieffer, Hector Elizando, Nathan Lane; subj.: romance comes into life of a small diner when ex-convict short order cook falls for waitress) [S-R-W-WC-D] (diner cook and waitress)

Boyz N the Hood (1991; dir. John Singleton; cast: Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Ice Cube, Nia Lons; subj.: Black, divorced father tries to raise his son well in the midst of South Central Los Angeles; Singleton first film won much praise) [W-WC-CC]

American Dream (1992; dir. Barbara Kopple; subj. Academy Award winning documentary focuses on the Hormel meat packing plant and its union in Austin, MN.) [C-R-S-U-WC] (meat packers)

School Ties (1992; dir. Robert Mandell; cast: Brendan Fraser, Chris O'Donnell, Matt Damon; subj.: working class Jewish student wins football scholarship to prep school where he encounters anti-Semitism, set in 1950's.) [R-WC-CC] (student)

Newsies (1992; dir. Kenny Ortega; cast: Robert Duvall; subj.: 1899 newsper boys' strike in NYC against Jospeh Pulitzer, Disney musical) [WC-U-B] (newspaper delivery persons)

Hoffa (1992; dir. Danny DeVito; cast: Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Armand Assante; subj.: film biography of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa based on filmscript by David Mamet) [W-WC-U-CC] (union organizer)

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992; dir. James Foley; cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris; subj.: adaptation of David Mamet's drama of desperate real estate salesmen) [R-W-WC-B] (real estate sales)

Mac (1992; dir. John Turturro; cast: John Turturro, Michael Badalucco, Carl Caputto, Ellen Barkin, John Amos; subj.: three brothers run father's consruction company in mid- 1950's Queens area amidst personal turmoil) [S-R-W-WC-CC] (construction laborers)

Untamed Heart (1993; dir. Tony Bill; cast: Marisa Tomei, Christian Slater, Rosie Perez, Kyle Stone; subj.: in diner setting busboy with heart ailment falls in love with waitress)[R-W-WC-CC-D] (diner waitress and dish washer)

Falling Down (1993; dir. John Schumacher; cast: Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Barbara Hershey; subj.: disenfranchised American goes off the deep end into terrorism at system) [C-D-B-E] (defense worker and policeman)

Benny and June (1993; dir. Jeremiah Chechik; cast: Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn, Julianne Moore; subj.: auto mechanic and mentally ill younger sister meet misfit Buster Keaton youth and romance)[R-WC-CC-D] (mechanic and drifter)

A Bronx Tale (1993; dir. Robert De Niro; cast: Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, Joe Pesci, Lillo Brancato, Francis Capra; subj.: slice of life in , Italian-American working class Bronx 1968 as hard working father struggles to keep son away from Mafia, from a play by Palminteri) [S-R-WC-B] (bus driver)

Lost in Yonkers (1993; dir.: Martha Coolidge: cast: Mercedes Ruehl, Richard Dreyfuss, Irene Worth, David Strathairn, Brad Stoll; struggling scrap salesman during WW II leaves his two sons with tough old grandmother in and simple-minded sister in Yonkers; adaptation of Neil Simon play) [S-R-W-WC] (salesman, candy store owner)

This Boy's Life (1993; dir. Michael Caton-Jones; cast: Robert De Niro, Ellen Barkin, Leonardo Di Caprio; subj.: based on unsettled life story of novelist Tobias Wolff as he and mother search for a good man) [S-R-WC] (factory worker)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993; dir. Lasse Hallstrom; cast: Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mary Steenburgen; youth struggles to keep his family going by working things out with retarded brother and obese mother)[C-S-R-WC-CC-D] (grocery store clerk)

Nobody's Fool (1994; dir.: Robert Benton; cast: Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith; subj: Newman plays tired older man working construction job in small New England town, hanging out with cronies and trying to relate to son and grandson; based on Richard Russo's novel)[R-W-CC-B-S-U-WC-D] (construction, teaching)

The Postman/Il Postino (1994; France-Italy; dir. Michael Radford; cast: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret; subj.: friendship of Italian postman and famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda [S-R-W-WC-CC] (postman and poet)

At the River I Stand (1994, Documentary of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike and the uniting of forces after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.) [C-R-S-R-U-WC] (sanitation workers)

Hoop Dreams (1994; dir. Steve James; documentary of two African American high schoolers who face the manipulative world of a sports career in basketball) [C-R-W-CC-B-S-WC-D] (student athletes)

The Burning Season (1994; dir. John Frnkenheimer; Cast: Edward James Olmos, Luis Guzman, Kamala Dawson; subj.: rubber tappers union struggles in Brazil) [C-S-R-U-WC-CC]
(rubber tappers)

Crooklyn (1994; dir. Spike Lee; cast: Alfred Woodard, Delroy Lindo, Zelda Harris; subj.: an African- American family struggles to get by on meager salaries of father as musician and mother as teacher, nostalgic portrait of Lee's family in 1970's seen through sister's eyes)
[S-R-W-WC] (teacher and musician)

Dangerous Minds (1995; dir.: John N. Smith; cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, George Dzundza, Courtney G. Vance; subj.: inexperienced teacher (and ex-Marine) takes on class of unteachables in city school) [C-S-W-D-E] (inner-city teacher)

A Walk in the Clouds (1995; dir. Alfonzo Arau; cast: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sancez-Gijun, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini; subj.: Romance of WWII veteran who finds himself working for young woman's family in the Napa Valley homestead) [S-W-WC-CC-E] (candy salesman, vineyard business)

My Family/ Mi Famiglia (1995; dir. Gregory Nava; cast: Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos; subj.: a Mexican American faily's sago of coming to and surviving in Los Angeles)
[C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (laborer)

Mr. Holland's Opus (1995; dir. Stephen Herek; cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis; subj.: Musician-composer resorts to teaching high school music and finds he loves it) [C-W-WC-B] (teacher)

Two Bits (1995; dir. James Foley; cast: Jerry Barrone, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Al Pacino; subj. nostalgic reliving of working class family and youth in South Philadelphia) during the Depression; screenplay by producer Joseph Stefano) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (retired laborer and homemaker)

Roommates (1995; dir. Peter Yates; cast: Peter Falk, D.B. Sweeney, Julianne Moore; subj.: Polish immigrant baker living in Pittsburgh raises grandson who becomes a doctor; based on co-screenwriter Max Apple's life) [S-W-WC-CC] (baker and medical doctor)

Harlem Diary (1995; dir. Jonathan Stack; documentary drama of nine Harlem youth who chronicle their life stories trying to survive in the projects; produced for Discovery Channel, but shown in theaters as well) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (out of work)

Beautiful Girls (1996; dir. Ted Demme; cast: Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Noah Emmerich, Natalie Portman, Annbeth Gish, Uma Thurman, Lauren Holly, Rosie O'Donnell, Uma Thurman; subj. young working class man returns to Massachusetts for class reunion and confrontations between beautiful girls and lost guys) [S-R-WC-CC-D] (city workers and out of work)

A Family Thing (1996; dir. Richard Pearce; cast: Robert Duvall, James Earl Jones, Irma P. Hall; subj.: tractor salesman Duvall traces bloodline to policeman Black brother in Chicago)
[C-S-R-WC-CC-D] (mechanic, policeman)

The Big Night (1996; dir. Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott; cast: Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Isabella Rossellini; subj.: tale of two Italian-American brothers in Long Island and their struggle to keep their little authentic restaurant and lives afloat)[C-S-R-W-WC-CC-B] (cooks and restaurant owners)

Spitfire Grill (1996; dir. Lee David Zlotoff ; cast: Alison Elliott, Ellen Burstyn, Will Patton; subj.: young woman comes from prison to small town in Maine to begin life again working in local diner; screenplay by Zlotoff) [C-S-W-WC-CC-D-B] (diner cook)

Sling Blade (1996; dir. Billy Bob Thornton; cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh; subj. retarded adult man, Karl Childers, struggels in a small Southern town; surprise low budgeted, independent film nominated for 1996 Oscar as Best Film) [C-S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (mechanic)

Fargo (1996; dir. Joel Coen; cast: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi; subj.: murder and kidnap plot involving woman police detective and car salesman, set in Fargo, North Dakota; script by Joel and Ethan Coen) [S-W-WC-D] (auto sales, policewoman)

Brassed Off (1996-British; dir. Mark Herman; cast; Pete Postlethwaite, Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Tompkinson; subj.: Colliery workers and families face closing of mines with victory of their brassed band and defiance of Conservative government)  [C-S-R-U-W-WC-CC-D-B] (coal miners)

Secrets and Lies (1996-British; dir. Mike Leigh; cast: Brenda Blethyn, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Timothy Spall, Claire Rushrook; sugj.: slice of life of working class family dealing with young Black woman's discovery of her white mother. [S-R-WC-CC]

Hidden in America (1996; dir. Martin Bell; cast: Beau Bridges, Bruce Davison, Shelton Dane, Jena Malone; displaced autoworker and family struggle to get by after wife dies, sharp and poignant depiction of hidden poverty in America) [C-S-CC-B-S-WC-D](out of work laborer)

Good Will Hunting (1997; dir. Gus Van Sant; cast: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver; subj.: Rough Boston youth with genius for math shows up MIT academics, wins girl, and gains confidence with counselor; written by Damon and Affleck who received writing Oscars.) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B (academia)] (construction, janitor, community college teacher).

The Full Monty (1997-British; dir. Peter Cattaneo; cast: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Steve Huison; subj.: unlikely bunch of out of work steel laborers decide to reverse their fortune by performing as male strippers in local club) [S-R-W-WC-CC-D-B] (out of work steel laborers)

Ulee's Gold (1997; dir. Vincent Nune; cast: Peter Fonda, Patricia Richardson, Jessica Biel, Christine Dunford; subj.: beekeeper father brings dysfunctional family together through hard work and struggles.)[R-W-CC-S-WC-D] (bee keeping)

Antz (1998; dir. Eric Darnel; cast: Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone; animated film in which worker ant rebels in love story.) [W-WC-CC-B] (worker ants in the system).

October Sky (1999; dir. Joe Johnson; cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, Natalie Canerday; subj.: based on autobiographical book by Homer H. Hickman, Jr., a coal miner's son in West Virginia, who becomes inspired by launch of Stutnik satelite, an against a life in the mines chooses to invent rockets with high school friends.) [R-W-S-U-WC] (coal miners,students, teachers).

A Lesson Before Dying (1999; dir. Joseph Sargent; cast: Don Cheadle, Cicely Tyson, Medhi Phifer; subj.: black youth in the 1930's South is wrongfully convicted of murder of a store owner, and teacher (Cheadle) works with him in prison...lessons learned by all.) *The film treats class as much as race. [S-R-W-WC-CC-D] (teachers, jobless, prison guards).

Fight Club (1999; dir. David Fincher; cast Ed Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter; subj.: young office employee and a soap salesman build a global organization to help vent male aggression.) [W-S-R-WC-E] (office worker and salesman)

    ======================== 2000's ============================

The Perfect Storm (2000; dir. Wolfgang Petersen; cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, John C. Reilly; subj.: fishing crew and captain off of Gloucester, MA fight threats of losing their ship and lives in a local storm.) [S-R-W-WC] (fishing industry)

Maid in Manhattan (2002; dir. Wane Wang; cast: : Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci;subj.: single mom works as cleaning maid in uptown.) [W-WC-CC] (maid)

The Rosa Parks Story (2002; dir.: Julie Dash; cast: Angela Bassett plays Rosa Parks who sparked the Civil Rights Movement)[C-WC-R]

Gangs of New York (2002; dir. Martin Scorsese; cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz; subj.: historically set in early New York City where gangs of youth battle.) [S-R-WC-CC-D] (youth gangs)

Rescue Me (2004; television series released as DVD, creators Dennis Leary & Peter Tolan; cast Leary, Steven Pasquale, Andrea Roth; subject life of a firefighter struggling with life and work.) [WC-U-R]. (firefighters)

North Country (2005; dir. Niki Caro; cast: Charlice Theron, Frances McDermond; fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States--Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.) [C-R-WC-U] ( woman miner, set in Minnesota)

Empire Falls (2005; dir. Fred Schepisi;written by Richard Russo and based on his novel; cast" Ed Harris, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Helen Hunt, Paul Newman, Robin Wright Penn, Aidan Quinn and Joanne Woodward. Small town life and its power yielding is depicted from the center of a diner.) [W-WC-CC-B] (diner work, policeman, etc.)

The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005; dir. Bill Paxton; cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michael Weaver, Elias Koteas, Stephen Dillane, Peter Firth; young working-class boy rises to become champion golfer defying class discrimination.) [C-S-W-WC-CC-B] (athlete)

We Are Marshall (2006; dir. McG; cast: Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn, Ian McShane; subj.: true story of Marshall University football team's demise in an airplane crash and effect of town and university people.)  [S-R-W-WC-B] (waitress, teachers, coaches)

Maquilapolis (City of Flowers) (2006, documentary filmed in Mexico where workers struggel to survive in sweatshops owned by large multinational corporations) [S-R-W-WC-B] (sweatshop workers)

There Will Be Blood (2007; dir. Paul Thomas Anderson; cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano; subj.: epic family tale of down-and-out silver miner who transforms himself into an oil tycoon at cost of family.) [R-U-W-WC-CC-D-B] (mining and oil  drilling)

From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks: The Life and Times of Harry Bridges (2007; dir. Haskell Wexler; cast: Ian Ruskin performing one-man show about Harry Bridges, leader of International Longshore and Warenouse Union. [WC-U] (longshoreman, union organizer)

Live Nude Girls Unite! (2007; documentary of dancers from Lusty Lady Club who form the first union for Exotic Dancers.) [WC-U-R] (exotic dancers)

Gran Torino (2008; dir. Clint Eastwood; cast Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley; multi-cultural neighborhood violence and friendshi; disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.) [C-R-WC-CC] (retired autho worker)

Frozen River (2008; directed and written by Courtney Hunt; cast: Melissa Leo, Misty Upham, Charlie McDermott; subj.: working-class women turn to illegal immigrant smuggling across Canadian border to get by.) [R-WC]

Wendy & Lucy (2008; directed and written by Kelly Reichardt; cast: Michelle Williams; subj. young woman and her dog run away to Alaska where she finds herself down and out.) [R-WC-D]

New in Town (2009; dir. Jonas Elmer; cast: Renee Zelwiger, Harry Connick Jr.; subj. young executive moves to small town in Midwest to reconstruct manufacturing plant and  begins a new life.)
[WC-CC-B] (boss and workers at manufacturing plant)

See Also: Tom Zaniello's Working Stiffs, Union Maids, Reds, and Riffraff: An Organized Guide to Films About Labor (Ithaca,NY: Cornell University Press, 1996).

Steven J. Ross's Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998).

*NOTE:This film list is under construction....courtesy of Bottom Dog Press, c/o Firelands College Huron, Ohio 44839 E-mail LSmithDog@smithdocs.net
Recent Update: January 2009

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