Free Film & Potluck Friday, Jan. 26

Jan 26 2007 - 6:30pm
Jan 26 2007 - 10:00pm

Event Description:

On the 4th Friday of January (the 26th), join us for refreshments and a time to visit with other activists, followed by a screening of the 1953 film classic, Salt of the Earth, and a discussion.

 Help us spread the word and invite your friends and family to come along. Fliers for distribution are attached below.

6:30 PM - social, potluck refreshments -- bring something to share, or just show up

7:30 PM - movie showing

9:00 PM - discussion, more refreshments 

The Havens Center is located at 1827 W. Alabama. Parking available in lot next to Divino’s, or in St. Stephen’s parking lot, just east of the Center.  

For more info see below from Wikipedia or call 713.524.1944.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Salt of the Earth tells the story of a long, difficult strike by Mexican-American miners against the Empire Zinc Company in Bayard (near Silver City), New Mexico in 1950-1951 (In the film, the events were set in the fictional village of "Zinc Town"). In neorealist fashion many of the miners and their families had parts in the film.

The film opens with a narration from Esperanza Quintero (Rosaura Revueltas). She says:

How shall I begin my story that has no beginning? My name is Esperanza, Esperanza Quintero. I am a miner's wife. This is our home. The house is not ours. But the flowers... the flowers are ours. This is my village. When I was a child, it was called San Marcos. The Anglos changed the name to Zinc Town. Zinc Town, New Mexico, U.S.A. Our roots go deep in this place, deeper than the pines, deeper than the mine shaft.

The issues the miners strike for include equity in wages with Anglo workers, and health and safety issues. Ramon Quintero (Juan Chacon) helps organize the strike, but at home he treats his wife as a second class citizen. His wife, Esperanza Quintero, is pregnant with her third child, is traditionally passive at first and is reluctant either to take part in the strike or to assert her rights for equality at home. But she changes her tune when the men are forced to end their picketing by a Taft-Hartley Act injunction. The women convince the men and proudly take their place in the picket line.

¡Sí, Se Puede!

Spoilers end here.

Film Notes

Miners and their kids are jailed by the law Miners and their kids are jailed by the law

According to Linda Gross the film was called subversive and blacklisted because it was sponsored by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers. Prior to making the film the union had been expelled from the CIO in 1950 for alleged Communist-dominated leadership. The film was also made by film-makers who figured as "unfriendly" witnesses before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).[2]

The film was denounced on the floor of the United States House of Representatives for its supposed "Communist" sympathies, and the FBI investigated the film's financing. The American Legion called for a boycott. Film-processing labs were told not to handle it. Unionized projectionists were instructed not to show it. After its opening night in New York, the film languished for ten years as all but 12 additional theaters refused to screen it.[3]

The story of the film's suppression, as well as the events it depicted, inspired an underground audience of unionists, leftists, feminists, Mexican-Americans, and film historians. The film found a new life in the 1960's and gradually reached wider audiences through union halls, women's centers, and film schools. The fiftieth anniversary of the film saw a number of commemorative conferences held across the U.S.[4]

Lee Hockstader in the Washington Post writes: "During the course of production in New Mexico in 1953, the trade press denounced it as a subversive plot, anti-Communist vigilantes fired rifle shots at the set, the film's leading lady was deported to Mexico, and from time to time a small airplane buzzed noisily overhead....The film, edited in secret, was stored for safekeeping in an anonymous wooden shack in Los Angeles."[5]

Miners before they strike Miners before they strike

[edit] Observations

Due to nature of the film and McCarthyism being in full force, the Hollywood establishment did not embrace the film. The Hollywood Reporter charged at the time that it was made "under direct orders of the Kremlin."[6]

Its harshest detractor was Pauline Kael, who reviewed the film for Sight and Sound in 1954 and labeled it "as clear a piece of Communist propaganda as we have had in many years."[7]

However, the film found a wide and appreciative audience in both Western and Eastern Europe.[8]

[edit] Releases

In July 27, 1999, a digitally restored print of the film was released in DVD by Geneon (Pioneer), and packaged with the documentary "The Hollywood Ten", which reported on the ten filmmakers who refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), resulting in their being blacklisted. A Laserdisc version has also been released by the Criterion Collection.

Because the film's copyright was not renewed in 1982 the film is now in the public domain and can be downloaded to a DVD.


Event Sponsor:
Progressive Action Alliance

Event Contact Name:
C. Lee Taylor

Event Phone Contact Information:

Event Website:

Event Fee:
Free! (Donations welcomed.)

SaltofEarth_single.pdf65.52 KB
SaltofEarth4up.pdf88.17 KB