The Defining Power of Class in America

A persistent belief (or many would say, myth) in American culture is that America is a classless society. As
such, issues of poverty, wealth, taxation, and free markets are particularly divisive. Originally, the belief of
American exceptionalism argued that everyone was a member of the middle class, ignoring the history of
slavery and hereditary wealth. Now, critics argue that the middle class is disappearing, while others view
some government programs as “class warfare.” Politicians argue over which party best serves the middle
class. How do issues of class define us as Americans? How does work define who we are? Is poverty an effect
of a biased economic system? What role do labor unions play in the history of work in America? What exactly
is class in a democracy? Is class mobility a reality or a kind of idealism? How does class identification overlap,
reinforce or contradict other ways we identify ourselves (race, geography, job, etc.)?
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1.
12 Angry Men (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence. (96 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
 
2.
American Dream (1990 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The local union, P-9 of the Food and Commercial Workers... (98 mins.)
 
3.
Atlantic City (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer find themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger. (104 mins.)
Director: Louis Malle
 
4.
The Big One (1997 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
On his book tour, Michael Moore exposes more wrongdoing by greedy big businesses and callous politicians around America. (91 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
5.
Citizen Kane (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (119 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
6.
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A true story of politics and art in the 1930s U.S., focusing on a leftist musical drama and attempts to stop its production. (132 mins.)
Director: Tim Robbins
 
7.
Days of Heaven (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A hot-tempered farm laborer convinces the woman he loves to marry their rich but dying boss so that they can have a claim to his fortune. (94 mins.)
Director: Terrence Malick
 
8.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. (126 mins.)
Director: Gus Van Sant
 
9.
Hoffa (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The story of the notorious American labor union figure Jimmy Hoffa, who organizes a bitter strike, makes deals with members of the organized crime syndicate, and mysteriously disappears in 1975. (140 mins.)
Director: Danny DeVito
 
10.
Hoop Dreams (1994 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional. (170 mins.)
Director: Steve James
 
11.
Hoosiers (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A coach with a checkered past and a local drunk train a small town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the championship. (114 mins.)
Director: David Anspaugh
 
12.
The House of Mirth (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A woman risks losing her chance of happiness with the only man she has ever loved. (135 mins.)
Director: Terence Davies
 
13.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam. (111 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
 
14.
Joe (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Bill, a wealthy businessman, confronts his junkie daughter's drug-dealing boyfriend; in the ensuing argument... (107 mins.)
 
15.
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved. (88 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
 
16.
Matewan (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company. (135 mins.)
Director: John Sayles
 
17.
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend. (113 mins.)
 
18.
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
In Milagro, a small town in the American Southwest, Ladd Devine plans to build a major new resort development... (117 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
 
19.
Modern Times (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. (87 mins.)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
 
20.
Nashville (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Over the course of a few hectic days, numerous interrelated people prepare for a political convention as secrets and lies are surfaced and revealed. (160 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
 
21.
Network (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit. (121 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
 
22.
Norma Rae (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A young single mother and textile worker agrees to help unionize her mill despite the problems and dangers involved. (114 mins.)
Director: Martin Ritt
 
23.
On the Waterfront (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses. (108 mins.)
Director: Elia Kazan
 
24.
The Outsiders (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The rivalry between two gangs, the poor Greasers and the rich Socs, only heats up when one gang member kills a member of the other. (91 mins.)
Director: Francis Coppola
 
25.
Quiz Show (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation. (133 mins.)
Director: Robert Redford
 
26.
Roger & Me (1989 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director Michael Moore pursues GM CEO Roger B. Smith to confront him about the harm he did to Flint, Michigan with his massive downsizing. (91 mins.)
Director: Michael Moore
 
27.
Rushmore (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The extracurricular king of Rushmore preparatory school is put on academic probation. (93 mins.)
Director: Wes Anderson
 
28.
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A Brooklyn teenager feels his only chance to succeed is as the king of the disco floor. His carefree youth and weekend dancing help him to forget the reality of his bleak life. (118 mins.)
Director: John Badham
 
29.
Silkwood (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A worker at a plutonium processing plant is purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing worker safety violations at the plant. (131 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
 
30.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The story of Preston Tucker, the maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept. (110 mins.)
 
31.
Wall Street (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing. (126 mins.)
Director: Oliver Stone