7.9/10
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63 user 37 critic

Matewan (1987)

PG-13 | | Drama, History | 28 August 1987 (USA)
A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

Director:

John Sayles

Writer:

John Sayles
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Chris Cooper ... Joe Kenehan
Mary McDonnell ... Elma Radnor
Will Oldham ... Danny Radnor
David Strathairn ... Sid Hatfield
Ken Jenkins ... Sephus Purcell
Kevin Tighe ... Hickey
Gordon Clapp ... Tom Griggs
Bob Gunton ... C.E. Lively
Jace Alexander ... Hillard Elkins
Joe Grifasi ... Fausto
Nancy Mette ... Bridey Mae
Jo Henderson Jo Henderson ... Mrs. Elkins
Josh Mostel ... Cabell Testerman
Gary McCleery Gary McCleery ... Ludie
Maggie Renzi ... Rosaria
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Storyline

Mingo County, West Virginia, 1920. Coal miners, struggling to form a union, are up against company operators and the gun thugs of the notorious Baldwin-Felts detective agency. Black and Italian miners, brought in by the company to break the strike, are caught between the two forces. UMWA organizer and dual-card Wobbly Joe Kenehan determines to bring the local, Black, and Italian groups together. While Kenehan and his story are fictional, the setting and the dramatic climax are historical; Sid Hatfield, Cabell C. Testerman, C. E. Lively and the Felts brothers were real-life participants, and 'Few Clothes' is based on a character active several years previously. Written by Susan C. Mitchell <susanm@indirect.com>, expanded by Silverwhistle

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It takes more than guns to kill a man See more »

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie mentions that Sid Hatfield married Mayor Cabell Cornelis Testerman's widow, Jessie Lee Maynard (1894-1976) - just two weeks after the mayor's death. Tom Felts and Charlie Lively accused Sid of killing Testerman himself in the confusion so that he could marry Jessie. However, Jessie stated that her first husband had asked his friend Sid to take care of her and their five-year-old son if anything should happen to him. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where the coal company executives are trying to bribe the Mayor and Sid Hatfield, the calendar behind the mayor reads September 1920. The historical shootout at the climax occurred in May of 1920, four months beforehand. See more »

Quotes

Danny Radnor: [Narrating] All we got is our misery, Joe Kenehan used to say, and the least we could do is share it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Game On: Martin's Baby (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

HILLS OF GALILEE
Sung by Hazel Dickens
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User Reviews

 
An overlooked masterpiece
4 March 1999 | by vic-45See all my reviews

Looking back to 1987 I have to wonder why this masterpiece was not nominated for Best Picture. But then again, this is the same institution that voted for films such as Braveheart and Forrest Gump. Is the Academy afraid of John Sayles?

See Matewan for its wonderful portrayal of the events that occurred in West Virginia in the 1920's. See this film for its phenomenal cast. See it for its beautiful cinematography. There is an ethereal glow that envelopes the characters and buildings of Matewan.

There is also an underlying allegorical depiction of Christ and his followers. Chris Cooper is a saint. He reminds me of Gary Cooper a little bit. He has such an unusual handsome face. He is the protagonist joined by James Earl Jones, Mary Mcdonnell, and Will Oldman. Perhaps the most fascinating character is that of the Sheriff portrayed by Strathairn. He is the angel on the black horse who carries with him the wrath of God. Just watch him stand up against the bad guys.

The main antagonistic characters are pure evil. They terrorize the inhabitants of Matewan with juvenile antics.

Please see this film and be prepared to have it imbedded in your mind for the rest of your life. This is what great film making is about


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

28 August 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Matewan See more »

Filming Locations:

West Virginia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,850, 30 August 1987

Gross USA:

$1,680,358

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,680,358
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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