Category Archives: Classic

Brothers Under the Skin (1912)

DramaShort | 2 October 1912 (USA)

Jack Adams, spokesman for workmen in a factory, pleads with the owner, Griscom, against a twenty percent cut in wages. Griscom refuses to consider the men’s side, so the men walk out. Jack, seeking work at another factory, is “black-listed.” He leaves in an ugly mood. Unable to find work anywhere, he is reduced to starvation. His wife needs a doctor. Jack sends a note to Griscom pleading to be taken back. Griscom answers, “Glad to see you so humble, but you can’t work for me.” Jack, irate, determines on vengeance. Outside Griscom’s mansion Jack is overcome by weakness. Elsie, Griscom’s favorite child, finds Jack, and has him taken into the house. Griscom comes in, suspects Jack’s intentions, and accuses him. Jack tells of his terrible suffering. Elsie tries to console him. Jack is overcome. Griscom relents and offers food. Jack refuses. Elsie puts her arms around Jack, and he accepts the food. The touching scene penetrates the armor of Griscom’s selfishness, and he offers his hand to Jack, who accepts it.


In Dubious Battle (2016)

Based off the John Steinbeck novel: an activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s.

Director: James Franco


The Chaplin Revue (1959)

Synopsis: 1959 film comprising three silent movies made by Charlie Chaplin. The three shorts included are A Dog’s Life, Shoulder Arms and The Pilgrim. All three star Chaplin’s trademark character, The Tramp. For the 1959 release, Chaplin added a soundtrack to help appeal to modern audiences. Chaplin also added extra footage including clips from World War I to express the context. He provides a personal introduction to each of the clips. Current releases of the compilation on DVD also feature other Chaplin films produced with First National such as Sunnyside and The Bond. Introductions by David Robinson, and behind-the-scenes footage are also included.

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Classic, Comedy, Working Class


Metropolis (1926)

There are several versions the film with different running times from 90 to 153m; Germany

Director: Fritz Lang

Synopsis (IMDB): In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.



Labor’s Reward (1925)

Synopsis (National Film Preservation Foundation):

Produced by the American Federation of Labor, Labor’s Reward is probably the earliest surviving film sponsored by an American labor union. Although only the third of five reels survives (along with a shorter fragment), the reel makes for a relatively self-contained story. In the lost earlier reels a father is injured at a nonunion machine shop. Receiving no workers’ compensation, his family must rely on the wages of the elder daughter, Mary, who toils at a nonunion bookbindery. As reel 3 begins, friend Tom finds Mary bedridden from overwork.

When Labor’s Reward was made in 1925, the American labor movement was struggling after the suppression of more militant unions. Labor’s Reward was intended to turn the situation around by demonstrating the AFL’s “constructive methods” and by appealing to “the purchasing public” to buy union-made products. With its female focus, the film also addressed the AFL’s history of regarding women workers as low-paid competitors. It is women who here show Tom the importance of buying a hat with a union label. Widely advertised, Labor’s Reward was screened for free. The AFL-affiliated American Federation of Musicians provided the live accompaniment.

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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Classic, Drama, Women, Working Class


Modern Times (1936)

87m; U.S.

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard and Henry Bergman

Synopsis (IMDB): Chaplin’s last ‘silent’ film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital… When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.