With election day scheduled for today, I thought it might be interesting to look at a political movie today. Salt of the Earth is a 1954 film produced by Paul Jarrico, directed by Herbert Biberman, and written by Michael Wilson. All three had been blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. Not coincidently, this film was also blacklisted -- the only U.S. film to be so.
Salt of the Earth is about the effects of a labor strike at "Delaware Zinc," located in "Zinctown, NM" -- fill-ins for the very real Empire Zinc in Grant County, NM, where a long, torturous labor strike occurred in 1951. Unique for its time, the film presented a feminist point of view of the strike and its effect on the workers, the community, the police, and the company.
Pauline Kael called the film "Communist propaganda," and The Hollywood Reporter said that it was "made under the direct orders of the Kremlin." Those were the days...
The movie is a powerful piece of film making that utilized real miners and their families as actors; only five professional actors (including the wonderful Will Geer) were used in the film.
There is a huge difference between a political film and a propaganda film. The political film challenges the status quo and raises moral and ethical questions. No matter what the era, the status quo seems always to be in need of change. Something to remember for those of you who live where elections are being held today.
And watch this film. It will move you.