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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 <email@example.com>
During his James Bond days, Sean Connery very rarely took second billing to anyone. However, in this film (made in bewteen You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever), Connery is the main supporting character to Richard Harris. With two such high calibre actors in the main roles, and Samantha Eggar and Frank Finlay offering significant support, it is no great surprise that The Molly Maguires is a uniformly well acted film.
It takes place in the 1870s in Pennsylvania. An undercover detective (Harris) joins the miners in order to unmask a secret society which goes by the name of "The Molly Maguires". The Maguires have been causing all kinds of sabotage and damage at a variety of Pennsylvanian mines (they're disgruntled after being unsuccessful in a recent strike). Harris is determined to track down their leaders and put an end to the crimes, but he slowly begins to be seduced by their cause and their charismatic leader Kehoe (Sean Connery).
It's a slow moving film, but deliberately so. Director Martin Ritt has expensively and painstakingly recreated the real-life conditions of a 19th mine and the grimy town on the surface above, and he wants you to notice the detail. Every camera shot pans slowly and precisely around the place, ensuring that you don't miss a single penny of the loving detail. However, though the audience gets a real impression of the time and effort that has gone into this film, it doesn't make for an entertaining experience. The slow pace becomes a distraction, especially if you're planning on giving the film a second or third viewing.
The Molly Maguires is worth catching if you're a fan of Connery or Harris (they give exemplary performances). It is also worth catching if this place and time (1870s Pennsylvania) is of historical interst to you. It is not worth catching if you're wanting a grand, involving and highly entertaining film.
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