Norma Rae (1979)
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Movie InfoThe heroine of Norma Rae (Sally Field) has no grand ambitions. She is a woman in an Alabama mill town in the '60s, and, like her father, her mother, and most of her friends, she works at the Henley textile plant spinning and weaving cloth, as the days go by without much apparent purpose. Norma Rae is a dependable, lively widowed mother who doesn't think much will ever change in her life. That assumption is proved wrong when she and her co-workers meet Reuben (Ron Leibman), a smart-mouthed but dedicated union organizer, down from New York to teach the Henley crew about solidarity in a place where owners and workers alike tend to think that the words "union" and "communist" are pretty much synonomous. Reuben eventually succeeds. And his instrument is the fragile, five foot two Norma Rae, who, despite her love for a jealous new husband and her child, gives her all to the cause of organizing for a union election. Though it's never expressed in words, it is safe to assume that Norma and Reuben love each other, though she is completely loyal to her husband and the two never do more than shake hands. The love that unites them may be their love of the "Union" idea, and its power to transform people's lives. Norma embraces that ideal, and in the process is transformed herself. Norma Rae is a proletarian film that unabashadely takes the workers' side on safety and pay issues. And, at the same time, it is a feminist manifesto in the best possible sense, because it shows an ordinary woman -- no radical, no saint and no hero -standing up for what she believes in. What she accomplishes shows what one dedicated woman can do. But her power comes, not from chromosomes and genes -- not from her gender itself -- but from being allowed to realize her full potential as a human being, something that women have often been denied. Sally Field proved just right for this transformational role, which demonstrated that the tiny Gidget and the somewhat air-headed Flying Nun could, by gosh, roar like a lion when she had to and make all people proud to be human. Likewise, the intense Leibman plays the union man to perfection-- fanatic enough never to give up, but smart enough and decent enough to sell solidarity to a bunch of very reluctant buyers. Fields won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for her performance, but may well have felt that the real award was being treated -- ever afterwards -as a real actor. Every American should be inspired by this movie, and it has an Oscar-winning country song, "It Goes Like It Goes," to help. … More
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Critic Reviews for Norma Rae
Photographed in murky yellows and browns by John Alonzo, this 1979 film is sluggish and vague, trivializing its subject in a wash of unearned sentimentality.
Nicely performed by a strong cast, especially Field and Leibman, it's often mawkishly soft, but surprisingly touching.
Norma Rae is a seriously concerned contemporary drama, illuminated by some very good performances and one, Miss Field's, that is spectacular.
At its heart, Norma Rae isn't a button-wearing union film as much as it is a character study of one woman who is pushed to the point of doing something spectacular.
Sally Field won her first Oscar for her performance in the title role, a complex portrayal of an working-class southern woman.
A beautifully made, splendidly acted film that more than achieves its aims.
The closure is consistent and satisfying, standing in opposition to conventional Hollywood happy endings: Norma Rae and Jewish labor leader part as equals, with a respectful handshake rather than embrace or kiss; both have benefited from the friendship
Does it get any better than Sally Field?
Harrowing union vs corporation film has Oscar winning Field.
This inspiring movie really connects with our emotions. . . . Sally Field has the meatiest role of her career.
Audience Reviews for Norma Rae
A fantastic social drama, and still relevant today too! Field is perfect, and she even won an award for this performance, so if you're a fan don't miss this one. It's a really good movie.More
Sally Field makes her outstanding performance (she won her first Best Actress Oscar) as a southern textile work attempting to unionise the mill with the aid of organiser Ron Leibman. Film is based on a true story and has good eyes and ears for authenticity. Entire case is first rate.More
Sally Field is such a very good actress and shines in: Norma Rae.
Field plays Norma Rae whom lives in a very small town. Her livelihood depends on her job at the local and very established factory until one day things start to change for the worse. Norma then decides to take a stance and fight for a Union to get better compensation that is rightfully there's. This is an insiring film and Sally Field does a very good job with this role...very believable from start to finish....worth spending your time to see this 80's classic.
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