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Norma Rae (1979)

PG | | Drama | 2 March 1979 (USA)
A young single mother and textile worker agrees to help unionize her mill despite the problems and dangers involved.

Director:

Martin Ritt

Writers:

Irving Ravetch (screenplay), Harriet Frank Jr. (screenplay)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sally Field ... Norma Rae
Beau Bridges ... Sonny
Ron Leibman ... Reuben
Pat Hingle ... Vernon
Barbara Baxley ... Leona
Gail Strickland ... Bonnie Mae
Morgan Paull ... Wayne Billings
Robert Broyles Robert Broyles ... Sam Bolen
John Calvin ... Ellis Harper
Booth Colman Booth Colman ... Dr. Watson
Lee de Broux ... Lujan (as Lee DeBroux)
James Luisi ... George Benson
Vernon Weddle Vernon Weddle ... Reverend Hubbard
Gilbert Green Gilbert Green ... Al Landon
Bob Minor ... Lucius White
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Storyline

Like a lot of her family before her, Norma Rae works at the local textile mill, where the pay is hardly commensurate with the long hours and lousy working conditions. But after hearing a rousing speech by labor activist Reuben, Norma is inspired to rally her fellow workers behind the cause of unionism. Her decision rankles her family, especially her fiancé, Sonny, and provokes no shortage of contempt from her employers. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Academy Award Winner SALLY FIELD Best Actress 1979 See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is based on a real-life union organizing campaign at J.P. Stevens Mill in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Norma Rae is based on Crystal Lee Sutton. Reuben Warshowsky, the union organizer, is based on Eli Zivkovich, a 55-year-old former West Virginia coal miner. In 1974, thanks to the efforts of Sutton and Zivkovich, workers at J.P. Stevens Mill voted to join the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. However, it took 10 years for the union to get a contract. Some real-life events are re-created verbatim in the movie, including Norma Rae holding up the "UNION" sign and the plant workers shutting down their machines, and Norma Rae waking up her children to tell them about her relationships with their fathers. See more »

Goofs

When Beau Bridges and Sally Fields characters are on their first date Beau's hair is parted in the middle. When they leave the bar with the union guy Beau's hair is parted on the far right. It never appears that way again. See more »

Quotes

Norma Rae Wilson: [handing back the ice pack for her bloodied nose caused from being punched by a date] Thanks a lot for the ice.
Reuben Warshowsky: Anytime.
Norma Rae Wilson: Christ, I hope not.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Cindy, I Love You
(uncredited)
Written by Johnny Cash
Performed by Johnny Cash
[Norma Rae says it was the song playing when she learned her husband had died]
See more »

User Reviews

 
The Film Stereotyped an Industry, But Broke the Stereotype of an Actress
19 May 2005 | by dglinkSee all my reviews

Although based on real events and a real person, "Norma Rae's" tale of corporate greed versus oppressed workers has been fictionalized for reasons of privacy. However, fictionalized or not, "Norma Rae's" power and influence continue since the U.S. textile industry has forever been branded in the minds of Americans as an outmoded industrial complex, whose windowless mills are filled with the deafening noise of hand-tended machines that are layered with cotton fibers and whose workers breathe in and permanently damage their lungs with stale air that is filled with cotton dust. Although those conditions certainly did exist, they no longer occur in that industry today. However, despite the modernization of textile manufacturing in the U.S. over the past couple decades, the image of the noisy, dusty mill that is depicted in the film remains as the general perception of a textile operation. Unfortunately, while modern textile mills are free of cotton dust and the noise levels have been reduced to the low hum of computers, textile workers like Norma Rae and the others portrayed in this film have also been replaced with robotics, lasers, and a few highly skilled technicians to monitor the computerized operations. While the unionization depicted in the film successfully raised wages and increased benefits, eventually those higher costs led to efforts to cut expenses through mechanization.

However, despite the demonizing of an industry, the film retains its power, and the story of Norma Rae's personal growth as a woman is probably even more memorable than the efforts to unionize one Southern textile mill. Sally Field inhabits the role of an unwed Southern mill worker with two children, and, as the film progresses, she slowly evolves from an aimless girl, who is used and abused by men, whether they be lovers or employers, into a mature woman who finds a depth and strength that helps her take control of her life and find the confidence to lead. Television viewers who only knew Field as the Flying Nun were surprised at her range and depth, although those who had taken the time to watch the television movie "Sybil" already suspected the breadth of her talent.

While Sally Field finally shed her Gidget and Flying Nun image with this film and certainly is the emotional core of the movie, she is well supported by a cast of pros, especially the two most important men in her life. Unfortunately, because Field is so outstanding, viewers will likely need a second viewing to appreciate just how good both Ron Leibman and Beau Bridges are in "Norma Rae." Ron Leibman as the assertive union organizer from New York is the man who awakens Norma's intellect and propels her into uncharted territory as a woman. Meanwhile, Beau Bridges as Norma Rae's gentle, understanding husband stands by his woman despite his not completely comprehending or appreciating the changes that are underway in his wife's character.

"Norma Rae" is an outstanding film, well directed by Martin Ritt, beautifully written by Frank and Ravetch, and performed with heart by Field, Leibman, and Bridges. Although the movie has probably stained the image of the U.S. textile industry for good, "Norma Rae" also established Sally Field as an actress of the first order and remains an engrossing human story of a woman's growth into maturity and her discovery of previously unrealized potential within herself.


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 March 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Norma Rae See more »

Filming Locations:

Auburn, Alabama, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$262,778, 4 March 1979

Gross USA:

$22,228,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,228,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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