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Film, Local, Top Original Content

30 Movies Featuring the Workplace, In Honor of Labor Day Weekend

August 30, 2013 /  by  

Movie #13: Textile Harassment Norma Rae

Year – 1979

Today it’s mostly known as the movie that won Sally Field and her first Oscar. This drama was based on the life of Crystal Lee Sutton, a North Carolina textile worker who battled for workers’ rights and did – as portrayed in the film – scrawl the word “UNION” on a flap of cardboard, standing on top of her work table for all to see. – DG

Movie #14: Business AffairsThe Apartment

Year – 1960

Fresh off the success of Some Like it Hot, Billy Wilder (the film’s writer and director) reteamed with Jack Lemmon to create this bittersweet romantic-comedy. Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, an overlooked, shlub of middle-manager at a faceless insurance company. Baxter is initially delighted when he discovers the quickest way to climb the corporate ladder is by letting his superiors use his bachelor pad for their extra-marital trysts. His elation is short-lived when he then learns that one of those trysts is the elevator-girl (Shirley MacLaine) whom he has a crush on.

The film, set against the then-current day backdrop of 1960 New York City, might feel like present-tense Mad Men to modern viewers. But it has a lighter touch (though only slightly so) and certainly a larger amount of “hope”. It’s classic Billy Wilder – cynical yet hopeful, witty, urbane and not afraid of sex. (Its matter-of-fact portrayal of adultery was quite controversial for its time.)

The film appears at #93 on the influential American Film Institute list of Top 100 Films, as well as at #20 on their list of 100 Laughs. It also was the last black and white film to win the Oscar for Best Picture until Schindler’s List in 1993. – TOK

Movie #15: Radioactive Rabble-rouser Silkwood

Year – 1983

Starring alongside Meryl Streep elevated everyone’s game, as Kurt Russell and Cher give some of their best dramatic performances to date in this movie inspired by real-life labor union activist Karen Silkwood, who battled against the managers of the plutonium plant she worked at until a suspicious car accident cut her life short. – DG