Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

PG  |   |  Documentary  |  28 September 1977 (France)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 3,401 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 40 user | 28 critic | 5 from Metacritic.com

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.


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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 ...
Ken Yablonski ...
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


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




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 September 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Eparhia Harlan I.P.A.  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


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User Reviews

unique and enlightening documentary chronicles labor strike
16 June 1999 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

This movie is a must-see for fans of socially active documentary film, or for those interested in the American labor movement.

It sometimes loses momentum as it documents the details of a particular labor strike in a mining town in rural Kentucky; yet that particular strike yields many memorable moments, including flashes of violence and revelatory dialogue. The company men are deliciously slick and slimy, and their goons are so ornery, that it's easy to forget that these people are real!

Where this film is at its best is where it uses historical footage and traditional labor songs to tie the strike to the larger past, and also where it explores other details of these people's lives -health issues, living conditions- that aren't specific to the strike. In this sense, the film becomes an important historical document of its own accord; unique, compelling, and enlightening to future generations.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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