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Salt of the Earth (1954)

 |  Drama, History  |  14 March 1954 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,959 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 21 critic

Mexican workers at a Zinc mine call a general strike. It is only through the solidarity of the workers, and importantly the indomitable resolve of their wives, mothers and daughters, that they eventually triumph.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sheriff
David Wolfe ...
Barton
Mervin Williams ...
Hartwell
David Sarvis ...
Alexander
Rosaura Revueltas ...
Esperanza Quintero
E.A. Rockwell ...
Vance
William Rockwell ...
Kimbrough
Juan Chacón ...
Ramon Quintero (as Juan Chacon)
Henrietta Williams ...
Teresa Vidal
Ángela Sánchez ...
Consuelo Ruiz (as Angela Sanchez)
Clorinda Alderette ...
Luz Morales
Virginia Jencks ...
Ruth Barnes
Clinton Jencks ...
Frank Barnes
Joe T. Morales ...
Sal Ruiz
Ernesto Velázquez ...
Charley Vidal (as Ernest Velasquez)
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Storyline

Based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine in New Mexico, the film deals with the prejudice against the Mexican-American workers, who struck to attain wage parity with Anglo workers in other mines and to be treated with dignity by the bosses. In the end, the greatest victory for the workers and their families is the realization that prejudice and poor treatment are conditions that are not always imposed by outside forces. Written by Bob Shields <rshields@igc.apc.org>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Banned! The film the US government didn't want you to see! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

14 March 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La sal de la tierra  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film's original copyright expired 1982 and was not renewed, thereby placing it into public domain. See more »

Goofs

When Ramon is in the bar, his hands change position several times between shots. See more »

Quotes

Esperanza Quintero: Ramon, I don't like to bother you, but the store, they say, uh, we will not make another payment on the radio this month, they'll come and take it away... We're only one payment behind... I argued with her. It isn't right.
Ramon Quintero: It isn't right, she says. Was it right that we bought this... this instrument? But you *had* to have it, didn't you. It was *nice* to listen to.
Esperanza Quintero: I listen to it... every night... when you are out at the beer parlor.
Ramon Quintero: 'No money down'. 'Easy term payments'. I tell you something -...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in One of the Hollywood Ten (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

We Shall Not be Moved
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by the women on the picket line
See more »

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User Reviews

Holds up surprisingly well
20 October 2003 | by (New York NY) – See all my reviews

Despite the crap the filmmakers had to endure to get this one done, it took its share of pans when it came out: A pious piece of agitprop full of too-good-to-be-true and too-bad-to-be-believed stick figures, etc etc. Today, it holds up well - first, its use of "real" locations and "real" people appears more valuable in a documentary sense the farther away we get from the time it was made. Second, the production values, especially the cinematography - the Blacklist claimed some of the more talented technicians in Hollywood, and Salt of the Earth benefits richly from their work.

Third, the themes remain quite relevant. When we see footage of, say Bolivian coca growers taking to the streets to overthrow their country's US-sponsored tycoon president, what's so surprising about a community of Mexican American workers standing in solidarity against an exploitative mining company? When we see Justice for Janitors bringing the owners of LA's office towers to the table (at least), what's so far-fetched about workers in Salt of the Earth grabbing a bit of justice for themselves? I could go on.

From the vantage point of 2003, Salt of the Earth looks like a refreshing change. Agitprop is news to a lot of people today - it can be powerful if done well, yet we're now all conditioned to think that any form of dramatic art that doesn't center obsessively on the isolated individual is false and/or sentimental. Is Salt of the Earth really more sentimental than On the Waterfront (made about the same time), in which a corruption struggle on the New Jersey docks serves merely as the scenery for Marlon Brando's emoting about his boxing career?? Come on!!

People who stand in solidarity really are powerful. Americans are taught not to think so, but it's when they stand up together, not separately, that they win the biggest victories (and I don't mean in uniform, either).


50 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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