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Black Fury (1935)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 18 May 1935 (USA)
An immigrant coal miner finds himself in the middle of a bitter labor dispute between the workers and the mine owners.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Joe Radek
Karen Morley ...
Anna Novak
William Gargan ...
Slim
...
McGee
...
Mike (as John T. Qualen)
...
Steve (as J. Carroll Naish)
Vince Barnett ...
Kubanda
...
Poole
Henry O'Neill ...
Hendricks
Joseph Crehan ...
Farrell (as Joe Crehan)
...
Mrs. Mary Novak
Sara Haden ...
Sophie Shemanski (as Sarah Haden)
Willard Robertson ...
Mr. J.J. Welsh
Effie Ellsler ...
Bubitschka
Wade Boteler ...
Mulligan
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Storyline

An immigrant coal miner finds himself in the middle of a bitter labor dispute between the workers and the mine owners.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 May 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Czarna furia  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was banned outright in Chicago, Guatemala, Spain, Peru, Venezuela, Trinidad and other countries. Many other locales required cuts in police brutality, Mike's murder and the mine explosions. The Hays office was concerned about Joe's criminal behavior in setting off the mine explosions not being punished, but eventually issued a certificate of approval. See more »

Goofs

At c. 24 minutes Joe is counting out his money, but he is inconceivably inaccurate. After counting to 68 dollars he places two further bills on the table and counts "73" out loud. A few moments later he counts up to 75 dollars, but, after four more bills have been placed in front of him he announces "76" dollars as his total. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Marked Woman (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Why Do I Dream Those Dreams?
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on piano in bar during scene where men challenge Radek
See more »

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User Reviews

 
From The Working Class Studio, A Film For The Working Man
7 March 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

During the Thirties Warner Brothers had the reputation of being the working class studio and it was films like Black Fury that made for Warner Brothers that reputation. It was rare indeed to see another studio take stories about ordinary working people. Mostly they concentrated on the middle and upper classes because film was a form of escapism during the Depression. Black Fury coming out as it did in the middle of the New Deal was a timely reminder of the difficulties organized labor faced. Not coincidentally 1935 was the year that the Wagner Labor Relations Act was passed, an effort finally by the government to give labor some kind of equal footing with management. The need of the Wagner Act was to correct some of the abuses shown in films like Black Fury.

Paul Muni plays happy go lucky immigrant coal miner Joe Radek. A man admittedly who works hard and no one thinks of as any kind of brain. He gets used good and proper by the company to stir up the miners so they will strike and give the company an excuse to lock out the union and bring in scabs.

What you see with those miners living on subsistent wages in company towns was taken right from current headlines. It may be ancient history to us now, but it was very real for those people back in the day. The Pinkertons as represented by brutal and corrupt company policeman Barton MacLane had an unsavory reputation as strikebreakers and enforcers for management. That too is no exaggeration.

Muni, aided and abetted by former girl friend Karen Morley now seeing the error of some of her ways, sees what a chump he's been and takes some real direct action against the employers. It's spectacular I'll tell you that.

Though his acting style seems to have not worn well with some, not with me mind you, Muni was given a really rare tribute that year. His performance as Joe Radek was the second time a performer had a sustained write-in campaign for him for an acting Oscar. He finished second in the balloting to Victor McLaglen for The Informer and ahead of Mutiny of the Bounty nominees, Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone. The following year the Academy banned write-ins and that's been so ever since. Of course the following year Muni won his Oscar for The Story of Louis Pasteur.

We've moved on in America from an industrial to an information based society and films like Black Fury are now part of history. But it's a history we should not forget.


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