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The Molly Maguires (1970)

Life is rough in the coal mines of 1876 Pennsylvania. A secret group of Irish immigrant miners, known as the Molly Maguires, fights against the cruelty of the mining company with sabotage ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


Complete credited cast:
Miss Mary Raines
Art Lund ...
Philip Bourneuf ...
Father O'Connor
Anthony Costello ...
Frank McAndrew
Brendan Dillon ...
Mr. Raines
Frances Heflin ...
Mrs. Frazier
John Alderson ...
Susan Goodman ...
Mrs. McAndrew


Life is rough in the coal mines of 1876 Pennsylvania. A secret group of Irish immigrant miners, known as the Molly Maguires, fights against the cruelty of the mining company with sabotage and murder. A detective, also an Irish emigrant, is hired to infiltrate the group and report on its members. But on which side do his sympathies lie? Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for violence, language and some thematic material | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 June 1970 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Odio en las entrañas  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Eckley, Pennsylvania is often described as a "coal patch" town. See more »


When Detective McParlan (James McKenna) and Mary Raines are walking down the Philadelphia street, a large hill can be seen in the background. There are no hills in the vicinity, or visible from, downtown Philadephia. See more »


[first lines]
Detective James McParlan: Lager
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Referenced in The Directors: The Films of Martin Scorsese (2000) See more »


Eileen Aroon
Traditional Irish Song
Performed by Samantha Eggar (uncredited) and Richard Harris (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Fine dramatization based on a true story about a secret society of Irish miners in Pennsylvania , circa 1876
5 October 2014 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Real story about secret society of Irish miners in Pennsylvania , circa 1876 .The Molly Maguires was an Irish 19th century secret society active in Ireland, Liverpool and United States. The "Mollies" were mostly known for their activism amongst Irish American coal miners in Pennsylvania , they fought for better conditions for coal miners , using even terrorist acts . The Molly Maguires" were so-called because they would often disguise themselves by wearing womens' clothing, hence their name . Life is rough in the coal mines of Pennsylvania , suffering a dreadful existence . Wages were low, working conditions were atrocious, and deaths and serious injuries numbered in the hundreds each year. As the film deals with a secret group of Irish immigrant miners, known as the Molly Maguires led by a worker (Scotsman Sean Connery as Jack Kehoe who was not a miner, but the owner of a saloon, The Hibernia House) , there arrives a newcomer (first-rate performance by Irishman Richard Harris) who is working as informer , in fact , he is a Pinkerton detective who infiltrates the group .

Exciting and thought-provoking story of Unions , treason and secret societies plenty of interesting drama , emotion and a strong antagonism between entrepreneurs and mine-workers . This good flick packs nice acting , vivid settings , evocative atmosphere , though is hurt by overlong scenes and depressing finale . Interesting screenplay dealing with brooding themes such as betrayal , fidelity , working fight , terrorism and many other things . As main cast : Connery , Harris , Eggar , as support cast : Frank Finlay , Anthony Zerbe , John Alderson , Bethel Leslie , Art Lund , Anthony Costello give top-notch interpretations . Colorful cinematography in Panavision by the classic cameraman James Wong Howe , filmed on location . According to cinematographer Howe, director Martin Ritt wanted to photograph this film in black and white, but was not allowed to do so by Paramount . Most of this film was shot in Eckley, Pennsylvania ; Paramount Pictures saved the town from being destroyed , it was slated to be demolished for strip mining . Special mention to impressive musical score , including a breathtaking leitmotif .

This understatement as well as downbeat motion picture was compellingly produced and directed by Martin Ritt , though a little long . The film was a notorious flop when it was released in 1970, earning back a little over 10% of its $11-million budget, an enormous sum for the time . Director Ritt blamed the film's massive critical and commercial failure for permanently damaging his career. Ritt was an expert on well-crafted dramas such as ¨Stanley and Iris¨ , ¨Nut¨ , ¨Norma Rae¨ , ¨The front¨, ¨The Sound and the Fury¨ , ¨Black orchid¨ , though also directed films of all kind of genres such as : ¨The Spy Who Came in from the Cold¨ , ¨The Great White Hope¨ , ¨Mafia¨ . And he worked with Paul Newman in three Westerns : ¨Hombre¨ , ¨Hud¨ and ¨Outrage¨. ¨Molly McGuire¨ film will appeal to drama enthusiasts and Sean Connery , Richard Harris fans . Rating : Above average, well worth checking out ; along with ¨Outrage¨ , being one of Ritt's best movie.

The picture was well based on actual events , they are the followings : About 22,000 coal miners worked in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. 5,500 of these were children between the ages of seven and sixteen years, who earned between one and three dollars a week separating slate from the coal. Injured miners, or those too old to work at the face, were assigned to picking slate at the "breakers" where the coal was crushed into a manageable size. The miners lived a life of "bitter, terrible struggle". Wages were low, working conditions were atrocious, and deaths and serious injuries numbered in the hundreds each year. The mine owners without one single exception had refused over the years to install emergency exits, ventilating and pumping systems, or to make provision for sound scaffolding and on September 6, 1869, a fire took the lives of 110 coal miners. Franklin B. Gowen, the president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, and of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company and "the wealthiest anthracite coal mine owner in the world", hired Allan Pinkerton's services to deal with the Mollies. Pinkerton selected James McParland to go undercover against the Mollies. Using the alias "James McKenna", he made Shenandoah his headquarters and claimed to have became a trusted member of the organization.McParland's assignment was to collect evidence of murder plots and intrigue, passing this information along to his Pinkerton manager. He also began working secretly with a Pinkerton agent assigned to the Coal and Iron Police for the purpose of coordinating the eventual arrest and prosecution of members of the Molly Maguires. After months of little progress, McParlan reported some plans by the "inner circle". When Gowen first hired the Pinkerton agency, he had claimed the Molly Maguires were so powerful they had made capital and labor "their puppets". When the trials of the alleged puppet-masters opened, Gowen had himself appointed as special prosecutor . On June 21, 1877, six men were hanged in prison .

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