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USA 1954
Directed by
Herbert Biberman
94 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Salt Of The Earth

Made during the McCarthy era Salt Of The Earth was written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico all of whom had been blacklisted by Hollywood as a result of HUAC “investigations” into Communist infiltration of the film industry.

Based on a real 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico and shot in a neo-realist style the union-financed film used actual miners and their families as actors with the focus on one particularly striker and his family (the wife, played by Rosaura Revueltas is one of the few professional actors). The result is rawly made but is above all a passionate plea for social justice, in particular for the Mexican miners, many of whom were working in lowly-paid dangerous conditions on land once owned by their forbears. The film also, and this is perhaps today its most interesting aspect, takes a strong stand on the equality of women, something quite remarkable for the day.

Not surprisingly the film was denounced by the United States House of Representatives for its communist sympathies and barely shown theatrically only receiving a proper reception in the 1960s since which time it has achieved recognition as a classic of political film-making.




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