A single mother working in a textile mill agrees to help unionize
the mill's workforce, causing her employers to consider her a problem.
Norma Rae (1979)
Directed by Martin Ritt
Written by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.
Starring Sally Field, Ron Liebman, Beau Bridges,
Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley, Bob Minor, Gail Strickland
Based on the book Crystal Lee , a Woman of Inheritance
by Henry P. Leifermann
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Sally Field), Best Original Song
(It Goes Like It Goes)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
Norma Rae is loosely based on the real-life union organizer Crystal Lee Sutton, who stood up to her employers and helped organize a textile union in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina in the 1970's. The film takes some liberties with her story, so it's not a biopic in the strictest sense. But it is an inspiring story about a woman who refused to be stepped on and did everything she could to make sure life in her small town could be better for her kids and the people she loved. Sally Field knocks it out of the park as the eponymous Norma Rae Webster, and spearheads a fantastic, engaging film.
It's early 70's Henleyville, NC. Norma Rae works in a cotton mill, as does most of the town. It's shitty conditions, poor pay, and nowhere else to go. One day, New York labor organizer Reuben Warshowsky (Liebman) arrives in town to create a new union for the mill workers, and Norma Rae becomes his right hand woman after she gets some firsthand experience in how her employers treat their workers. This causes some animosity between the employers and Norma, but she keeps fighting for what she knows is right. The movie is both infuriating and moving, and Sally Field is absolutely lights out.
Norma Rae is a great movie that really highlights the importance of labor unions and how much more fucked we'd be without them. It's a film that's really difficult to find these days, but if you can track down a copy, you won't be disappointed. There are so many satisfying moments, and a host of great performances that all sort of work to supercharge Field's performance. I enjoyed it.