Black Fury

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'Torn from the front-page headlines', this strike drama is a good example of the extent to which Warner Bros was the proletarian studio: it plays with political dynamite while preaching conciliation and moderation. Fielding a Polish accent only Meryl Streep could understand, Muni is Joe Radek, an easy-going miner whose popularity among his workmates makes him the perfect dupe for a labour agitator planted by strike-breaking racketeers. Something of a buffoon, Radek finds himself leading a walk-out which wrecks the delicate relations between union and management, who are compelled to bring in scabs and industrial police. These last are the real villains of the piece - not the bosses - but at least there is no question that the heroes are the 'bohunks', immigrant workers whose harsh living and working conditions are vividly recreated in Warner's specially constructed 'Coal Town', an impressive complex of wooden shacks, drills and mineshafts. Inspired by the case of Mike Shemanski, a Pittsburgh miner murdered by three company policemen, it is hardly surprising that the film was censored in some states and banned outright in Pennsylvania itself.

Release details

Duration: 92 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenwriter: Abem Finkel, Carl Erickson
Cast: Paul Muni
Karen Morley
William Gargan
Barton MacLane
John Qualen
J Carrol Naish
Mae Marsh
Akim Tamiroff
Vince Barnett
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