Best Movies by Farr
Salt of the Earth Poster
Released Runtime Category
1954 94 Drama
Director Language
Herbert Biberman English
Actors
Rosaura Revueltas, Will Geer, David Wolfe, Juan Chacón

Salt of the Earth

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What's it About

This powerful film portrays the indigent lives of workers at a zinc mine in 1950s New Mexico, focusing on Ramon and Esperanza Quintero (Chacón and Revueltas). When Ramon, backed by the Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, leads a walk-out against the Empire Zinc Company, reprisals follow. The company eventually produces an injunction forcing the men off the picket line, so their wives step in and take over for them.

Why we love it

Filmed independently on a shoestring by blacklisted director Herbert Biberman — at the dark height of McCarthyist persecution, no less — “Earth” was itself blacklisted on release, the only movie in our country’s history to earn that distinction. For the shoot, Biberman relied mainly on non-professional actors, including many real-life participants in the struggle for Mexican-American and workers’ rights. Blacklisted actor Will Geer, later Grandpa in “The Waltons,” plays a strikebreaking sheriff to loathsome effect. Shot with documentary-style immediacy, this historic effort still makes for stark, powerful cinema.

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"