Matewan

1987, History/Drama, 2h 12m

33 Reviews 2,500+ Ratings

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Matewan Photos

Movie Info

Filmed in the coal country of West Virginia, "Matewan" celebrates labor organizing in the context of a 1920s work stoppage. Union organizer, Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper), a scab named "Few Clothes" Johnson (James Earl Jones) and a sympathetic mayor and police chief heroically fight the power represented by a coal company and Matewan's vested interests so that justice and workers' rights need not take a back seat to squalid working conditions, exploitation and the bottom line.

Cast & Crew

Chris Cooper
Joe Kenehan
Will Oldham
Danny Radnor
James Earl Jones
'Few Clothes' Johnson
Bob Gunton
C.E. Lively
Josh Mostel
Cabell Testerman
Mark Balsam
Executive Producer
Amir Jacob Malin
Executive Producer
Jerry Silva
Executive Producer
Mason Daring
Original Music
Haskell Wexler
Cinematographer
Nora Chavooshian
Production Designer
Dan Bishop
Art Direction
Leslie Pope
Set Decoration
Cynthia Flynt
Costume Designer
James Sarzotti
Hair Stylist
James Sarzotti
Makeup Artist
Peggy Rajski
Production Manager
Matia Karrell
First Assistant Director
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Critic Reviews for Matewan

Audience Reviews for Matewan

  • Feb 04, 2020
    Sayles strikes the right balance of realism and hope here. Per usual he assembles one hell of a cast.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 25, 2009
    Caught this on late night cable. Fantastic film on all levels. It looks great and has some amazing performances. It is everything that I love about John Sayles. It seems like every movie he makes is a social studies project (not that it's always a good thing) and you always learn about something from his films. I didn't know anything about this event and it made it more riveting. Bob Gunton, Chris Cooper (in his film debut), and James Earl Jones are brilliant.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 22, 2008
    Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones and Mary McDonnell each do a good job in this John Sayles piece on the growth of the labor union into the West Virginia coal mines of the 1920's. But, I may have set my expectations for the film a bit too high. Maybe it was meant as a warm-up for Sayles, David Strathairn, Kevin Tighe, Jace Alexander and Gordon Clapp prior to their collaboration of the following year...Eight Men Out.
    Moe E Super Reviewer
  • Jun 29, 2007
    An amazingly authentic film with great performances, photography and production design. Sayles work here is stellar, can't wait to read the book.
    Ken S Super Reviewer

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