10 Greatest Films to Watch During a Strike

In a time when Starbucks and Amazon workers are trying to unionize, as are reporters and journalists at newspapers, this is an excellent time to watch films about unions and their most effective tactic, strikes. There have been many times in recent history when the Writers Guild of America, the union for writers in entertainment, has been considering a strike, and a vote is coming soon.

Which movies would you recommend that someone watch during a strike? People at an established Internet forum were asked this question. As you might expect, they responded with some great answers. 

1. Strike (1925)

Strike Sergei Eisenstein
Photo Credit: Goskino, Mosfilm

Not the first film about labor unions, but made by one of the greatest filmmakers in history, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, Strike qualifies for this list. Eisenstein is legendary for his second film, The Battleship Potemkin, with its impressive Odessa Steps sequence, which shows the brutal repression of the Tsar of Russia. The sequence is still taught in film schools today, and director Brian De Palma created a train station scene as a homage to the sequence in his film The Untouchables

Strike or Stachka is a silent drama about workers refusing to work after one of the employees is unfairly accused of theft. Agents of the bosses spy on workers, and eventually, the governor sends in the military, who attack the employees. The film shows scenes of workers demanding rights like wage increases, an eight-hour workday, fair treatment, and six-hour workdays for minors. It is Eisenstein's feature debut. 

2. Hunger (2008)

Hunger Michael Fassbender Steve McQueen
Photo Credit: Film 4 Productions

Hunger is about a different kind of strike. In this case, it is a hunger strike undertaken by Bobby Sands, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner willing to starve himself to make his point. The prisoners in the facility continually protest the unfair treatment of the British government during The Troubles, and the guards mistreat them horribly. The film is another feature debut, this time by British director Steve McQueen, with no relation to actor Steve McQueen.

The film stars Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, The IRA's former officer commanding. The film takes place in 1981 during the second hunger strike in Northern Ireland after Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rescinded their rights as political prisoners. Sands perished after sixty-six days and was elected to Parliament while in prison. Riots broke out at the news of his passing, and one hundred thousand people attended his funeral. 

3. The Wobblies (1979)

The Wobblies
Photo Credit: Kino Lorber

The Wobblies is a riveting documentary about the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) formation in 1905. Co-directed by Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird shows the Wobblies' insistence on “one big union” to protect workers' rights, rank-and-file organization, and their success in organizing “unskilled workers.” 

The film tells the real-life story of the union rebels that is still very relevant today. The film interviews union members, now in their 80s and 90s, and uses archival footage, art, and songs, written by Joe Hill or Hägglund, a dedicated union activist railroaded into being executed in 1915. Hill's songs are in the Little Red Song Book of the IWW. 

4. Matewan (1987)

Matewan John Sayles Chris Cooper
Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

Matewan was written and directed by John Sayles about the Battle of Matewan or a coal miners' strike culminating in a gunfight between the townspeople and the mine owner's mercenaries in 1920. It stars Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, David Straithern, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldham. Cooper plays Joe Kenehan, a union organizer from United Mine Workers who comes to town and becomes embroiled in the conflict. 

The mine owner tries to crush the spirit of the coal miners by bringing in scab workers, evicting them from company housing, and confiscating food and clothing they bought with company script or currency that owners gave to their workers instead of U.S. dollars to control them better. There is also a spy in their midst sent by the company to inform on union workers and sow discord. It did not do well upon release but was a critical hit and is remembered for its powerful storytelling. 

5. Silkwood (1983)

Silkwood Mike Nichols Meryl Streep Kurt Russell Cher
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Silkwood is the story of a union organizer and whistleblower, Karen Silkwood. She died in a suspicious car accident after leaving a union meeting and testifying before the Atomic Energy Commission about the safety issues at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Fuel Fabrication Site where she worked. 

The film stars Meryl Streep as Silkwood, Kurt Russell as her boyfriend, and Cher as her roommate, who are both her co-workers. Silkwood and the other workers are contaminated with radiation, and she becomes obsessed with finding proof to expose the plant bosses. When she is on her way to meet a New York Times reporter with her evidence, she is involved in a fatal accident. No evidence was found in her car. It was written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen and directed by Mike Nichols. 

6. Bread and Roses (2000)

Bread And Roses Elpidia Carrillo Adrien Brody
Photo Credit: FilmFour Distributors

Bread And Roses is a film that tells the story of the Justice For Janitors movement that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ran starting in June 1990 to improve the wages and conditions for janitors, caretakers, and cleaners in offices and other buildings. These workers are traditionally underpaid and need access to advantages like health insurance while doing hard work that nobody else wants to do. The film shows their efforts to form a union and seek justice. 

The film is directed by Ken Loach, a socialist director who concentrates on the lives of working people and social issues. It stars Pilar Padilla, Adrien Brody and Elpidia Carrillo. Loach is a director who has won the most awards given to a director at the Cannes Films Festival. Some of those awards were for joint prizes, but he is the only one who has ever won fifteen times at the festival. 

7. Norma Rae (1979)

Norma Rae Sally Field Martin Ritt
Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

Norma Rae is a film about the life of Crystal Lee Sutton, a real-life union organizer, renamed Norma Rae for the film. It was directed by Marvin Ritt and stars Sally Field, Beau Bridges, and Ron Liebman and released in 1979 after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. 

She works at a cotton mill that is dangerous to the health of its workers with its terrible working conditions. After taking the job of a spot checker and regretting it, she listens to a union organizer's speech and is fired up to bring the union to her workplace. She is caught trying to transcribe a racist company flier and is fired. She then stands silently on top of a table with a piece of cardboard that says, “Union,” in an iconic moment. 

8. Cesar Chavez (2014)

Cesar Chavez Michael Pena Diego Luna
Photo Credit: Lionsgate Films

Cesar Chavez is a biographical film about the celebrated labor leader who created the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Dolores Huerta and Larry Itliong, two other labor leaders, in 1962. Conditions for farm workers and treatment from farmers and other Californians were often brutal and racist. 

Mexican actor and director Diego Luna directed the film and stars Michael Peña America Ferrara, Rosario Dawson, Darion Basco, and John Malkovich. The film tells the story of the many non-violent protests and strikes led by Chavez, Huerta, and Larry Itliong, a Filipino labor leader. 

9. Blue Collar (1978)

Blue Collar Paul Schrader Harvey Keitel Yaphet Kotto Richard Pryor
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Blue Collar is a celebrated film directed by Paul Schrader and co-written with his brother Leonard. It tells the story of three angry auto workers at the auto factory bosses and their union representatives. The film is one of the few that is critical of unions and stresses the workers' struggles against all sides that have the power. It stars Yaphet Kotto, Richard Pryor, and Harvey Keitel, who give blistering performances that sprang out of real-life enmity. 

10. The Molly Maguires (1970)

The Molly Maguires Sean Connery Martin Ritt
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Molly Maguires is based on the book Lament for the Molly Maguires by Arthur H. Lewis and is set in Pennsylvania in 1876. The Molly Maguires were a secret society among Irish coal miners in the U.K. and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. They existed to protect coal miners from the oppression of coal mine owners and the dangers of the job before regulations. 

While there isn't a traditional union in this film, the secret society serves the purpose of a union by fighting for workers' safety and rights by any means they deem necessary. Their antagonist is even the one that coal mine owners sent against the unions in later years, agents of The Pinkertons. The film is the second film on this list, directed by Martin Ritt, and stars Richard Harris, Sean Connery, Samantha Eggar, and Frank Finlay. 

This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.

The 13 Movies So Awful They Scored Zero on Rotten Tomatoes

Disney’s Live-Action ‘Pinocchio’ Dances To The Tune of a Corporate Cash Grab
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Receiving a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes is a sought-after accomplishment all directors and filmmakers hope to achieve. But do you ever wonder what happens when a movie is so bad that it totally tanks at the box office?

Perhaps more difficult are those movies so awful they reach a zero on the Tomatometer, meaning no critic liked a single aspect of the film. So instead, they watched each dire moment, waiting for something decent to occur, but it never did.

Here are 13 movies that achieved a perfect zero on Rotten Tomatoes.

10 TV Shows That Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead

greys anatomy meridith grey
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What TV show started great but ruined its reputation by staying entirely too far past its prime? I can think of a few, but I don't want to spoil the ending.

After being surveyed, the Internet responded with these television series that should have quit while they were ahead.

10 TV Shows That Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead

10 Surprising Movies That No One Cares About Anymore

the hobbit
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Someone recently expressed they were searching for movies that exist but aren't a big deal anymore, despite a massive appeal and success initially.

They gave these examples, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The Bodyguard (two huge Kevin Costner films with enormous hit songs that no one has watched since 1997). The Revenant (Leo gets an Oscar, but can you remember anything besides the bear scene?). Seabiscuit. What else?” Here are the top responses.

10 Surprising Movies That No One Cares About Anymore

10 Most Hated Characters on The Big Bang Theory

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution.

Recently someone online asked, “Who do you consider the most unlikable on the show?” Do you think you know who took the number one spot on the list?

Here are the ten top-voted responses from the show's fans.

10 Most Hated Characters on The Big Bang Theory

10 Awesome Obscure 80s Movies No One Seems To Remember

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Are you tired of the same well-known films on every 80s movie list? You're not alone.

An online discussion inquires, “What obscure 80s movie did you love that no one else seems to remember?” Here are the top responses.

10 Awesome Obscure 80s Movies No One Seems To Remember

Dolores Quintana is an actor and writer living in Los Angeles. She has bylines at Fangoria, Alternative Press, Nightmarish Conjurings, Grammy.com/The Recording Academy, The Advocate, Buddyhead, Pocho.com, The Theatre @ Boston Court, The Mirror Media Group, What Now Media, We Like LA, and The Shudder Blog. She has a successful YouTube channel and podcast called Burnt Orange Dreams, where she interviews actors, writers, and directors.

She works as an actor in independent film and both immersive and traditional theatre with Alone: an Existential Haunting, Screenshot Productions, and Native Voices at The Autry.