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Discussion: What’s your favorite film about unions?

January 8, 2021

Based on a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by Malcolm Johnson investigating New York City’s murderous dock industry, ON THE WATEFRONT follows Marlon Brando’s Terry Malloy, an ex-boxer turned longshoreman, as he works under the thumb of “Johnny Friendly,” a racketeering union boss who controls the waterfront.

For this week’s discussion, Reel 13 host Richard Peña asks, what’s your favorite film about unions? Documentaries are excluded.

If you need some inspiration, Peña’s choice is THE KILLING FLOOR. Directed by Bill Duke for “American Playhouse,” the film tells the story of union conflict in Chicago’s slaughterhouses during World War I.

“Few films I’ve seen are more thoughtful or honest in their depiction of that difficult intersection of class and race that has often haunted the American labor movement,” says Peña.

“And if you haven’t seen TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT, the latest masterpiece of Belgium’s Dardennes Brothers,” Peña urges, “you must do so immediately.”

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