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USA 1970
Directed by
Martin Ritt
123 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

The Molly Maguires

Sean Connery plays the leader of a covert group of renegade Irish immigrant coal miners, known as the Molly Maguires in an 1870s Pennsylvania mining town Their group is infiltrated by a an undercover Pinkerton detective (Richard Harris) but his deception eats at his confidence.

Martin Ritt is a director whose films have a strong sense of social consciousness and whilst this film is in this regard commendable and has some impressive credits, aside from the cast, including cinematography by James Wong Howe, it is a sanitised depiction of the time-honoured working-class struggle for a fair deal. Not only does it conform to a highly conventionalised narrative format (which includes the obligatory romantic sub-plot involving Samantha Eggar) the plot is weak in handling the opposition it sets up between the characters played by Connery and Harris, to the point that Connery’s Kehoe appears (unless one attributes to him a death wish, an idea which the script does toy with) to simply ignore the presence of Harris’s traitor in their midst.

The Molly Maguires is a handsome production and has a commendable agenda but it is dissipated by a lack of dramaturgical integrity. 




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