This film review is for the course called “20th Century Canadian Working Class History” and course reqirued textbook is “L.S. MacDowell and Ian Radforth eds. Canadian Working Class History: Selected Readings (third edition), Toronto, Canadian Scholars Press, 2006. ”
Do ONE of the following projects.
Write an SIX page analytical review of ONE of these films and discuss the film in relation to the questions in the assignment, and the issues raised in the readings. Include endnotes and a bibliography at the end of the review. All films can be ordered through the UTM library or you can get them on-line. All readings are on reserve in the UTM library.
1. Norma Rae
What are the obstacles to organizing a union as portrayed in this film? Discuss with reference to the following two articles which are available in the reserve section of the UTM library: Robert Brent Toplin, “Norma Rae: Unionism in the Age of Feminism”, Labor History, spring 1995; Dale Newman,” Work and Community Life in a Southern Textile Town” in Daniel J. Leab, ed. The Labor History Reader.
2. Margaret’s Museum
How does the film portray working class culture and the lives of miners and their families in the Maritimes? Evaluate with reference to Steven Penfold, “‘Have You No Manhood in You?’: Gender and Class in the Cape Breton Coal Towns,1920-1926” in Joy Parr & Mark Rosenfeld, Gender and History in Canada (1996) and Judith Hoegg Ryan, Coal in Our Blood:200 Years of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia’s Pictou County (Halifax 1992).
Evaluate the film’s treatment of Hoffa and the Teamster’s union by comparing the film to ONE of: Arthur A. Sloane, Hoffa (1991), or Robert Kennedy, The Enemy Within (1960).
Compare and contrast the experience of organizing these coal miners in West Virginia with miners in Canada, using S.D. Hanson, “Estevan 1931” in I. Abella ed. On Strike (Toronto 1974) and David Frank, “Class Conflict in the Coal Industry: Cape Breton 1922,” in Gregory S Kealey & Peter Warrian (eds), Essays in Working Class History.
5. Salt of the Earth
Discuss how themes of gender and ethnicity in this film are presented. Is the film ahead of its time? Discuss the political context of the film by reading James J. Lorence, The Suppression of Salt of the Earth: How Hollywood, Big Labor and Politicians Blacklisted a Movie in Cold War America.
6. 9 to 5
How does this film use humour to depict issues for women workers in the labour force? Discuss, using examples from the film, and by reading Graham Lowe, Class, Job and Gender in the Canadian Office (in your Reader) and Paul Phillips & Erin Phillips, Women and Work: Inequality in the Canadian Labour Market, ch.2 Participation in the Workplace.
7. Billy Elliott
Discuss the barriers to upward mobility in the working class, and both negative and positive aspects of working class culture, with reference to Frank Augustyn, Dancing From the Heart: A Memoir, ch.1 Steeltown Beginnings, Toronto, M&S, 2000. Also discuss the background of the film during the miners strike 1984-85 in Britain, by reading B. Towers, Posing larger questions: the British miners strike of 1984-85, Industrial Relations Journal 16, 2, June 1985, 8-25.
8. On The Waterfront
How does this film portray life on the waterfront? What is the effect of the “mob” on workers and their union? Compare and contrast the content of the film with William Kaplan, Everything That Floats
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