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- 114 min.
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Norma Rae is one of those fresh slice-of-life American social awareness pictures, set in an impoverished working class setting and built around a strong female character, much like the later Silkwood from 1983. The story is very well told with lots of depth to the characters and their struggles, all of whom are well played by a strong acting ensemble spearheaded by the magnificent Sally Field, in a stunning performance that won her a well deserved Academy Award. My only gripe with the movie is that it loses steam towards the end and just kind of petters out. Norma Rae's relationship with her new husband is not explored enough, and her struggles with the management at the textile mill starts to become a little underwhelming as the same pattern with five-six bossmen flocking around the lone union man/woman while being rude and mean are repeated over and over with minimal variations. A good movie, but would have been great with a stronger third act
The anti-union sentiment present in the textile industry workers in Norma Rae is alive and well - I just saw the topmost review on IMDB call the film propaganda and make the claim that unions are both violent and the cause of jobs going overseas. In other words, it's no used asking corporations for a living wage and safe working environment and we'd be wrong to do so, because we're just killing the industry that puts the pittance on the table. Absurd. And so Norma Rae retains its usefulness as an aspirational piece of cinema, on the surface about changing the conditions at a factory, just underneath about a woman changing her life, supporting by an endearing but textured performance by Sally Field (YES! we really do like you, Sally!). And they don't exaggerate the "evil bosses", avoiding the sensationalism of similar films, without sacrificing any of the drama.
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #16 in AFI's 100 years...100 cheers
This movie ranks #323 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #590 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #615 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made