6.5/10
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16 user 3 critic

Harlan County War (2000)

A Kentucky woman whose mine-worker husband is nearly killed in a cave-in, and whose father is slowly dying of black lung disease, joins the picket lines for a long, violent strike.

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ruby Kincaid
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Tug Jones
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Buddy Kincaid
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Lucinda Kincaid
Ker Wells ...
Little Lee
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Mary Ball
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Bill Worthington
Cliff Saunders ...
Lawrence Perkins
Deborah Pollitt ...
Ora Perkins
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Dillard Ball
Tom Harvey ...
Jerry Selvey
Reginald Doresa ...
Bronce Breckenridge
Helen Hughes ...
Aunt Melva Jones
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Storyline

A Kentucky woman whose mine-worker husband is nearly killed in a cave-in, and whose father is slowly dying of black lung disease, joins the picket lines for a long, violent strike.

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It's Her Turn To Fight Back.

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Drama

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4 June 2000 (USA)  »

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Harlan County  »

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1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) See more »

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in the tradition of Martin Ritt
30 May 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Lowest-class working people go on strike for better conditions. Outside agitator helps foment discontent. Working class wife expands personally by taking part in the struggle. To a large extent this sounds like, and is, a 2000 remake of NORMA RAE, which is graced with a fine lead by Holly Hunter, and looks quite good considering it is set in Harlan County, KY, but filmed "on location in Toronto, Canada." Stellan Skarsgard as the labor organizer, and Ted Levine as Hunter's miner husband also deliver good performances, and entire cast is fine though most roles are smallish vs Hunter. Nice musical score.

This film takes off from the documentary HARLAN COUNTY USA and has plot resemblances to NORMA RAE. The slant is unabashedly left of center and the performances and details ring true (except the dogs don't look like mountain dogs to me). Hunter is given a fairly brief, mostly-in-the-dark seminude scene that I found a little gratuitous (possibly the first time those words have ever crossed my lips). I didn't catch the credit, this viewing, for the little guy (he's about as short as Hunter) who plays her father, but he looks exactly right as a used-up coal miner and might have been cast right off the street in my neighborhood.

Picture is set in the 1970s, with Nixon references and talk of wage scales that will sound unbelievable today. Sneak previewed on Showtime the night of 5/29/2000, this is a commendable fictionalization of the story told even more dramatically in HARLAN COUNTY USA, and easily the best premium cable original film I've seen in a long time. Martin Ritt would have made it even better but he wouldn't have been ashamed of this version. And which side are *you* on, buddy?


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