7.9/10
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54 user 24 critic

Matewan (1987)

PG-13 | | Drama, History | 30 June 1988 (Australia)
A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Joe Kenehan
... Elma Radnor
... Danny Radnor
... Sid Hatfield
... Sephus Purcell
... Hickey
... Tom Griggs
... C.E. Lively
... Hillard Elkins
... Fausto
... Bridey Mae
Jo Henderson ... Mrs. Elkins
... Cabell Testerman
Gary McCleery ... Ludie
Maggie Renzi ... Rosaria
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Storyline

Mingo County, West Virginia, 1920. Coal miners, struggling to form a union, are up against company operators and the gun thugs of the notorious Baldwin-Felts detective agency. Black and Italian miners, brought in by the company to break the strike, are caught between the two forces. UMWA organizer and dual-card Wobbly Joe Kenehan determines to bring the local, Black, and Italian groups together. While Kenehan and his story are fictional, the setting and the dramatic climax are historical; Sid Hatfield, Cabell C. Testerman, C. E. Lively and the Felts brothers were real-life participants, and 'Few Clothes' is based on a character active several years previously. Written by Susan C. Mitchell <susanm@indirect.com>, expanded by Silverwhistle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It takes more than guns to kill a man See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

30 June 1988 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Azok a véres napok  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,680,358
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sid Hatfield and Mayor Testerman are buried next to each other in a small cemetery just outside of Matewan, in Buskirk, KY. See more »

Goofs

The steam locomotive used in "Matewan" was ex-New York, Chicago, and St. Louis Railway ("Nickel Plate Road") #765. It was a modern steam locomotive built in the 1940's and thus would not have existed at the time of the events depicted in "Matewan." See more »

Quotes

Elma Radnor: I was putting up blackberries when Trammel Blankenship came shoutin' up the holler that the Number 5 had blown. I remember I took the pot off the stovetop and washed my hands before I went down. It took two days to dig through. And then when they brung 'em up, you couldn't tell which was which. They found blood on the walls from fellas trying to claw their way out. Mrs. Elkins, Mrs. Mounts, Bridey Mae, me... we all lost our men in that fire. Danny were seven then. Now he's back in that same ...
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Connections

Featured in Great Directors (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

FIRE IN THE HOLE
Lyrics by John Sayles and Mason Daring
Music by Mason Daring
(c) 1987 Daring Music/ASCAP
Sung by Hazel Dickens
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User Reviews

 
An overlooked masterpiece
4 March 1999 | by See all my reviews

Looking back to 1987 I have to wonder why this masterpiece was not nominated for Best Picture. But then again, this is the same institution that voted for films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump. Is the Academy afraid of John Sayles?

See Matewan for its wonderful portrayal of the events that occurred in West Virginia in the 1920's. See this film for its phenomenal cast. See it for its beautiful cinematography. There is an ethereal glow that envelopes the characters and buildings of Matewan.

There is also an underlying allegorical depiction of Christ and his followers. Chris Cooper is a saint. He reminds me of Gary Cooper a little bit. He has such an unusual handsome face. He is the protagonist joined by James Earl Jones, Mary Mcdonnell, and Will Oldman. Perhaps the most fascinating character is that of the Sheriff portrayed by Strathairn. He is the angel on the black horse who carries with him the wrath of God. Just watch him stand up against the bad guys.

The main antagonistic characters are pure evil. They terrorize the inhabitants of Matewan with juvenile antics.

Please see this film and be prepared to have it imbedded in your mind for the rest of your life. This is what great film making is about


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