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Salt Of The Earth


Salt of the Earth is a 1954 United States drama film written by Michael Wilson (writer), directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All had been Hollywood Ten by the Classical Hollywood cinema The establishment due to their alleged involvement in CPUSA politics.<>.</>
This drama film is one of the first pictures to advance the Feminism social and political point of view. Its plot centers on a long and difficult Strike action, based on the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico. In the film, the company is identified as "Delaware Zinc," and the setting is "Zinctown, New Mexico." The film shows how the miners, the company, and the police react during the strike. In neorealism (art) style, the producers and director used actual miners and their families as actors in the film.


The film opens with a narration from Esperanza Quintero (Rosaura Revueltas):
"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, pregnant with their third child, is passive at first and reluctant either to take part in the strike or to assert her rights for equality at home. She changes her attitude when the men are forced to end their picketing by a Taft-Hartley Act injunction. At the union hall, the women convince the men, after a long debate, that they should be allowed to participate and they join the picket line.


Professional actors
  • Rosaura Revueltas as Esperanza Quintero
  • Will Geer as Sheriff
  • David Wolfe (actor) as Barton
  • Mervin Williams as Hartwell
  • David Sarvis as Alexander
Non-professional actors

  • Juan Chacón as Ramon Quintero
  • Henrietta Williams as Teresa Vidal
  • Ernesto Velázquez as Charley Vidal
  • Ángela Sánchez as Consuelo Ruiz
  • Joe T. Morales as Sal Ruiz

  • Clorinda Alderette as Luz Morales
  • Charles Coleman as Antonio Morales
  • Virginia Jencks as Ruth Barnes
  • Clinton Jencks as Frank Barnes
  • Víctor Torres as Sebasatian Prieto

  • E.A. Rockwell as Vance
  • William Rockwell as Kimbrough
  • Floyd Bostick as Jenkins
  • and other members of Mine-Mill Local 890


The film was called subversive and blacklisted because the Western Federation of Miners sponsored it and many blacklisted Hollywood professionals helped produce it. The union had been expelled from the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1950 for its alleged Communism leadership.
The film was denounced by the United States House of Representatives for its communist sympathies, and the FBI investigated the film's financing. The American Legion called for a nation-wide boycott of the film. Film-processing labs were told not to work on Salt of the Earth and unionized projectionists were instructed not to show it. After its opening night in New York City, the film languished for 10 years because all but 12 theaters in the country used to screen it.
  • In 1992 the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
  • The film is preserved by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
  • Later history

    The story of the film's suppression, as well as the events it depicted, inspired an Underground film audience of unionists, leftists, feminists, Mexican-Americans, and History of Film. The film found a new life in the 1960s and gradually reached wider audiences through union halls, women's centers, and Film School. The 50th anniversary of the film saw a number of commemorative conferences held across the United States.
    A drama film, based on the making of the film, was chronicled in One of the Hollywood Ten (2000). It was produced and directed by Karl Francis, starred Jeff Goldblum and Greta Scacchi and was released on September 29, 2000 in Spain and European countries. It has not been released in the United States as of 2011. The film has been shown at many film festivals around the world.

    See also

    • The Hollywood Ten, documentary film
    • Jencks Act
    • Jencks v. United States
    • Labor history (discipline)
    • The Ladies Auxiliary of the International Union of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers



    • The Suppression of Salt of the Earth. How Hollywood, Big Labor, and Politicians Blacklisted a Movie in Cold War America, by James J. Lorence. University of New Mexico: 1999. ISBN 0-8263-2027-9 (cloth), ISBN 0-8263-2028-7 (paper).
    • Salt of the Earth: The Story of a Film, by Herbert J. Biberman. Harbor Electronic Publishing, New York (2nd edition, 2004): 1965. See: Cineaste review of book.

    Category:1954 films
    Category:1950s drama films
    Category:American drama films
    Category:American political drama films
    Category:Crystal Globe winners
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Feminist fiction
    Category:Film censorship in the United States
    Category:Films about the labor movement
    Category:Films directed by Herbert Biberman
    Category:Films set in New Mexico
    Category:History of labor relations in the United States
    Category:Independent films
    Category:Mexican American films
    Category:Mining in film
    Category:Social realism in film
    Category:Spanish-language films
    Category:United States National Film Registry films

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