Regardless of whether one supports organized labor, the struggle for fair wages and collective bargaining is fraught with drama. Little wonder, then, that Hollywood often dips into the union font in its search for dramatic stories. For that matter, it's hardly surprising that union movies have inspired such amazing performances. As the Wisconsin public sector workers' standoff drags on, here are a few of the best union movies to help the time pass a little more quickly.
Chaplin's last 'silent' film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital - When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.
IMDB Rating: 8.5
Terry Malloy dreams about being a prize fighter, while tending his pigeons and running errands at the docks for Johnny Friendly, the corrupt boss of the dockers union. Terry witnesses a murder by two of Johnny's thugs, and later meets the dead man's sister and feels responsible for his death. She introduces him to Father Barry, who tries to force him to provide information for the courts that will smash the dock racketeers.
IMDB Rating: 8.2
The Joad clan, introduced to the world in John Steinbeck's iconic novel, is looking for a better life in California. After their drought-ridden farm is seized by the bank, the family -- led by just-paroled son Tom -- loads up a truck and heads West. On the road, beset by hardships, the Joads meet dozens of other families making the same trek and holding onto the same dream. Once in California, however, the Joads soon realize that the promised land isn't quite what they hoped.
IMDB Rating: 8.1
The real story behind the world of sales. This is a realistic portrayal of what it is to try making a life in high pressure sales with all its highs and lows; promises of fortunes and deliveries of dross. Red-leads and dead-leads are to blame for life's outcomes. Living with "Objection, Rebuttal, Close".
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Fairly accurate recounting of the story of Karen Silkwood, the Oklahoma nuclear-plant worker who blew the whistle on dangerous practices at the Kerr-McGee plant and who died under circumstances which are still under debate.
IMDB Rating: 7.2