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Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 3,075 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 36 user | 27 critic | 5 from Metacritic.com

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

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Title: Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) on IMDb 8.3/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Norman Yarborough ...
Himself - Eastover Mining President
Houston Elmore ...
Himself - UMW organizer
Phil Sparks ...
Himself - UMW staff
John Corcoran ...
Himself - Consolidated Coal President
John O'Leary ...
Himself - former Bureau of Mines director
Donald Rasmussen ...
Himself - Blackwing Clinic, WV (as Dr. Donald Rasmussen)
Hawley Wells Jr. ...
Himself (as Dr. Hawley Wells Jr.)
Tom Williams ...
Himself - Boyle campaigner
Chip Yablonski ...
Himself
Ken Yablonski ...
Himself
Logan Patterson ...
Himself - negotiator
Harry Patrick ...
Himself - UMW secretary-treasurer
Mike Trbovich ...
Himself - UMW VP
Bernie Aronson ...
Himself - UMW staff
Guy Farmer ...
Himself - BCPA General Counsel
Edit

Storyline

This film documents the coal miners' strike against the Brookside Mine of the Eastover Mining Company in Harlan County, Kentucky in June, 1973. Eastovers refusal to sign a contract (when the miners joined with the United Mine Workers of America) led to the strike, which lasted more than a year and included violent battles between gun-toting company thugs/scabs and the picketing miners and their supportive women-folk. Director Barbara Kopple puts the strike into perspective by giving us some background on the historical plight of the miners and some history of the UMWA. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 September 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Eparhia Harlan I.P.A.  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

When filming began, the film was intended to be about the 1972 campaign by Arnold Miller and Miners For Democracy to unseat UMWA president Tony Boyle, in the aftermath of Joseph Yablonski's murder; but the Harlan County strike began and caused the filmmakers to change their principal subject, with the campaign and murder becoming secondary subjects. See more »

Connections

Featured in These Amazing Shadows (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Coal Tatoo
Additional lyrics and Sung by David Morris
See more »

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User Reviews

'There's blood upon your contract like vinegar in your wine...
7 September 2010 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

...'cause there's one man dead on the Harlan County line'.

This is a powerful Oscar-winning documentary produced and directed by Barbara Kopple ('American Dream', 'Wild Man Blues'). It focuses on the men at the Brookside Mine in Harlan, Kentucky who, in the summer of 1973, voted to join the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Duke Power Company and its subsidiary, Eastover Mining Company, refused to sign the contract. The miners came out on a long strike, registered by Kopple with testimonies, backstories, archival footage, and music, particularly that of Hazel Dickens during the final credits.

The film's main strength resides in the sincerity of its emotional, political and sociological core without being overtly sentimental, and Kopple's way of testifying instead of exploiting the subjects. The miners and their wives are not depicted in old hillbilly stereotypes, but rather as hard-working human beings fighting for their basic rights ('together we stand, divided we fall').

Thirty years after the release of this documentary, five miners died in an explosion at Harlan County. When the film was shot, money was the bigger issue (industry profits rose 170% in 1975, but miner's wages rose only 4%); nowadays, however, safety is an even bigger issue. You'd think things would have been largely improved since then, but that's not really the case. 'Harlan County U.S.A.' is a remarkable documentary because it testifies and proposes solutions about a public struggle that shouldn't be overlooked, yet has been for such a long time, in the "land of the free and home of the brave".


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