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Norma Rae is a southern textile worker employed in a factory with intolerable working conditions. This concern about the situation gives her the gumption to be the key associate to a visiting labor union organizer. Together, they undertake the difficult, and possibly dangerous, struggle to unionize her factory. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
The first time I saw this film was at an advance screening when I was a film student, and director Martin Ritt was there to speak and answer questions. I remember that he seemed like a very down-to-earth, nice guy. He patiently answered the students' questions and explained why the story attracted him. Maybe some of the affection I have for the film is because of that original positive experience, but I've probably seen it at least a dozen times and it hasn't worn thin.
Some people may find some of the characters and situations lacking in depth, but for me the movie is chiefly about Norma Rae's transformation as she becomes passionately devoted to unionizing the mill workers and, secondly, her interesting friendship with Reuben. It succeeds brilliantly on both counts, largely because of Sally Field's amazing performance. The scene where she stands on the table with the "union" sign is a classic, and it's Field's raw emotion that draws you in. Her fear and anger, and the power she feels when her coworkers show their support, are so apparent and so real that I'm always deeply moved.
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