Saturday October 25th, 2014, 7:56 am (EDT)

Nora Sayre

Unglaring Exceptions

Dissent in the Films of the 1950s

While the largest American audiences of 1954 watched James Stewart studying his neighbors in Rear Window, or Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge shooting it out in Johnny Guitar, or Victor Mature fondling Susan Hayward in Demetrius and the Gladiators, while many savored the inspired lunacies of Beat the Devil, there was one film that most were protected from seeing. Salt of the Earth, made independently by blacklisted writers—directed by Herbert Biberman of the Hollywood Ten, written by Michael Wilson, and produced by Paul Jarrico—was presented by the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, which had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 on charges of Communist domination. The movie was beleaguered from its inception. Filmed in Silver City, New Mexico, Salt of the Earth was based on the 1951-1952 strike by the Mexican-American zinc miners of Mine-Mill, who had demanded equality with their Anglo colleagues, as well as safety regulations on the job… | more |

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