West Virginia Miners Play Second Fiddle to the Molly Maguires – by Mark Hand (Counter Punch.com – September 29, 2015)


In search of improved working conditions and livable wages, mine workers in two major coal producing states resorted to violence against coal mine owners and managers. The militants in one of those states are celebrated as heroic fighters of America’s industrial age. In the other state, the miners’ campaign for human progress is omitted from state history books.

In Pennsylvania, the state contributed funds to build a monument to honor the Molly Maguires, a secretive Irish organization that allegedly killed coal company officials as retribution for their treatment of miners. In museums and gift shops in the state’s anthracite coal region, visitors can purchase t-shirts and other memorabilia honoring the Mollies, 20 of whom were hanged after they were found guilty of murder and other serious charges in the late 1870s.

A big-budget Hollywood movie, titled The Molly Maguires, was released in 1970 with a radical coal miner, played by Scottish actor Sean Connery, as the hero and a Pinkerton detective, played by Irish actor Richard Harris, as the anti-hero.

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Screamers (Mining Themed Science Fiction Movie – 1995) (Toronto Film Scene: Online Film Magazine – November 2014))


For our science fiction issue, it seemed obvious to address and Cronenberg or Vincenzo Natali film, so we decided to go a little off the beaten path and choose Screamers, a 1995 Canadian co-production (with the US and Japan) starring Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis and directed by Christian Duguay.

The film takes place in the the year 2078 on a planet called Sirius 6B, on which miners are at war with the corporation who employs them to mine a very potent energy source. Unfortunately, the side effect of the mining is severe radiation, creating horribly unsafe working conditions.

To combat the corporation, the miners create weapons called “screamers”, spinning blade weapons that follow heartbeats and come up from the ground to slice their enemies into pieces. The war seems close to an end, but now the miners face a new enemy: screamers who can think and replicate themselves.

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“The 33” Movie Trailer for the 2010 Chilean Mining Accident


In movie theatres in November.

Wiki Summary of the Chilean Mining Accident

The 2010 Copiapó mining accident, also known then as the “Chilean mining accident”, began in the afternoon of Thursday, 5 August 2010 as a significant cave-in at the troubled 121-year-old San José copper–gold mine. The mine is located in the Atacama Desert about 45 kilometers (28 mi) north of the regional capital of Copiapó, in northern Chile.[1] The buried men, who became known as “Los 33” (“The 33”), were trapped 700 meters (2,300 ft) underground and about 5 kilometers (3 mi) from the mine’s entrance via spiraling underground service ramps.

The mixed crew of experienced miners and technical support personnel, with less experience working underground, survived for a record 69 days deep underground before their rescue.[2][3] Previous geological instability at the old mine and a long record of safety violations for the mine’s owners had resulted in a series of fines and accidents, including eight deaths, during the dozen years leading up to this accident.[4][5][6] As a result of the mine’s notorious history, it was originally thought that the workers had probably not survived the collapse or would starve to death before they were found, if ever.

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Margaret’s Museum (British/Canadian Coal Mining Movie – 1995) – Review by Janet Maslin (New York Times – February 7, 1997)



Finding Signs of Hardy Life in Tough Surroundings

With a strong and colorful sense of its Nova Scotia setting, ”Margaret’s Museum” describes life in a remote coal mining community. It’s an existence that the film’s reckless, earthy heroine knows all too well. Rough-hewn Margaret MacNeil, played spiritedly by Helena Bonham Carter, has lost a father and brother to ”the pit,” as the miners call it.

And she works as a scrubwoman in the village hospital. Periodically throughout the film, which is set in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, alarm bells sound as the hospital staff braces for new accident victims from underground.

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Heroic and tragic truth behind Poldark: Cornishmen shaped mining in Britain and pushed boundaries the world over – by Boyd Tonkin (The Indepnedent – April 10, 2015)



If you look beyond the bodice-ripping and family feuds, the BBC’s ‘Poldark’ delves into a fascinating period of Cornwall’s mining past. Boyd Tonkin looks at the real quarrying dynasties in a region that was once at the cutting edge of capitalism

Anyone who watches Poldark for a treatise on Cornish industrial history is clearly barking up the wrong tree – or, maybe, peering down the wrong shaft. The second BBC adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels has already secured a sweating, straining place in prime-time costume-drama folklore that promises to eclipse even the spiky courtship of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice – almost 20 years ago.

Ask fans to divert their gaze from the unfastened gowns and naked torsos to those fascinating examples of Cornish beam engines in the background and you risk sounding like the country-pursuits writer who reviewed Lady Chatterley’s Lover for Field and Stream magazine.

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Adventures In Rainbow Country TV Series (Some Mining Themed Episodes: 1970-1971)



Adventures in Rainbow Country – From the Winnipeg Free Press, Sep 19, 1970.

The rugged beauty of Canada’s north country is truly captured for the first time on television in Adventures in Rainbow Country, a new 26-week color film series, centring on the life and escapades of a 14-year-old boy growing up amid the splendor and the challenge of the land around northern Lake Huron, Ont. It begins on CBC television, Sept. 20.

Filmed entirely on location — there is not a single studio sequence — Adventures in Rainbow Country features a large cast of exclusively Canadian actors. Through a unique co-production enterprise, the 30-minute films will be seen on the English television network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; in a dubbed version on the CBC’s French network; and will bring a vivid picture of the real Canadian outdoors to television audiences in Britain, Australia, Germany and a number of other countries.

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Between Friends (Canadian Mining Movie – 1973) Accent: 1973 film shot in Sudbury a neglected classic – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – January 26, 2014)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

“What are you watching?” a character named Chino asks his pal Toby, slumped in front of a TV set. “It’s a commercial,” Toby replies. “They just interrupt it every now and then with a movie.”

The scene is from Between Friends, an overlooked gem of Canuck cinema shot in Sudbury in 1972. It appeared in 1973, made a stir on the festival circuit, then sank like a stone.

It did resurface briefly in 1985, long enough for me to see it as an undergrad at Queen’s. I remember leaving the lecture hall — there was no theatre at the university, not then, but there were projectors that could unspool a 35-mm reel — in a kind of fugue state. I had never seen a Canadian movie as gritty or as good as Between Friends.

I still haven’t. A tale of betrayal, broken dreams and a bungled plan to rob the payroll of a nickel mine, the film’s action takes place between Toronto, looking rather grey and grim, and Sudbury, where things get greyer and grimmer.

The latter isn’t named, but couldn’t be mistaken for anywhere else: Multiple images of the Inco smelter and surrounding slagscape, yet to undergo a greening makeover, form a key part of the film’s tone, not to mention a metaphor for the characters’ lives, which are progressively stripped of hope and purpose.

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Black Fury (1935) – by Andre Sennwald (New York Times Review – April 11, 1035)



Hollywood, with all its taboos and commercial inhibitions, makes a trenchant contribution to the sociological drama in “Black Fury,” which arrived at the Strand Theatre yesterday. Magnificently performed by Paul Muni, it comes up taut against the censorial safety belts and tells a stirring tale of industrial war in the coal fields.

Some of us cannot help regretting the film’s insistent use of the whitewash brush, which enables its sponsors to be in several editorial places at the same time. But when we realize that “Black Fury” was regarded by the State Censor Board as an inflammatory social document and that it has been banned in several sectors, we ought to understand that Warner Brothers exhibited almost a reckless air of courage in producing the picture at all.

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Green Fire (American Mining Themed Movie – 1954)


Green Fire is a 1954 Eastmancolor MGM movie directed by Andrew Marton and produced by Armand Deutsch, with original music by Miklós Rózsa. It stars Grace Kelly, Stewart Granger, Paul Douglas and John Ericson.

Rugged mining engineer Rian Mitchell (Stewart Granger) discovers a lost emerald mine in the highlands of Colombia, which had last been operated by the Spanish conquistadors. Rian is a man consumed by the quest for wealth. However, he has to contend with local bandits and a savage jaguar.

Taken to recuperate at the plantation home of local coffee grower Catherine Knowland (Grace Kelly) and her brother Donald (John Ericson), Rian manages to charm Catherine.

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A Lifetime in the Mines: An Essay on Watching Films about Coal Mining + Complete filmography – by Steve Fesenmaier (July 23, 2009)

Steve Fesenmaier, director of WVLC Film Services – I wonder if coal miners ever watch movies? Frani Stone, native West Virginian and assistant director of WVLC, Film Services – I think miners spend enough of their time in the dark….. Summer, 1979

Recently a Pittsburgh filmmaker contacted me concerning his expanding film pertaining to the Monongah 1907 Disaster. He has completed a 25-minute version of a film, but plans to add another hour or so, making it a wider film. He asked me about “other films on coal mining.” This request caused me to spend a concerted amount of time compiling the following list of films about coal mining. Considering the fact that I, at this point, have spent 30 years watching every possible film on the subject, helping several films be made and showing coal mine films in numerous milieus, a brief essay on the subject may be worth writing in my case and worth reading in yours.

The first coal mine film I ever saw was “Harlan County, USA” at the Edina Theater in south Minneapolis, around May 1978. I recall staggering out of the theater, thinking that it was a powerful film. I thought, “How could Americans be treated by their bosses like that?” Within a month, I was in New York City at The American Film & Video Festival, standing back to back with the director, Barbara Kopple. I had just accepted an award at the festival for Les Blank. Kopple and I were shaking hands in the lobby, people thinking that I was Les. I called him on the phone, telling him that he had better get down to the  festival so HE could shake hands.

Within a few months, now living in Charleston, I learned that Kopple had been invited to the Governor’s office in Charleston to talk to people about filmmaking in the state. Unfortunately I was not invited to the meeting.

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Opal Dream (Australian Mining Themed Movie – 2006)



Opal Dream (also known as Pobby and Dingan) is a 2006 Australian drama film, based on the Ben Rice novella Pobby and Dingan, directed by Peter Cattaneo and starring an ensemble cast including Vince Colosimo, Jacqueline McKenzie, Christian Byers and Sapphire Boyce. It was filmed on location around South Australia, in Adelaide, Coober Pedy and Woomera. Opal Dream was released in Australia on 28 September 2006, with eventual release around the world.

The film begins by introducing Kellyanne Williamson, playing with imaginary friends Pobby and Dingan. The family of Rex Williamson—his wife Anne, daughter Kellyanne and son Ashmol—have moved to Coober Pedy, known as the “opal capital of Australia”, because Rex believed he could make a fortune in mining opal. So far he’s had little success. Ashmol, while he loves his sister, is frequently annoyed when she talks to her imaginary friends, and some of the kids at school tease the siblings because of them.

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King Solomon’s Mines (American Themed Mining Movie – 1950)



King Solomon’s Mines is a 1950 adventure film, the second of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel by the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson. It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.


Allan Quatermain (Stewart Granger), an experienced hunter and guide, reluctantly agrees to help Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) and her brother John Goode (Richard Carlson) search for her husband, who disappeared in the unexplored African interior while searching for the legendary mines. They have a copy of the map he used. A tall, mysterious native, Umbopa (Siriaque), joins the safari. Quartermain has no use for women on a safari, but during the long and grueling journey, they begin falling in love.

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Gold Is Where You Find It (American Mining Movie – 1938)



Although it was one of the biggest epic movies Warner Brothers produced at the time, Gold Is Where You Find It (1938) is little remembered today, but with a top director, an excellent cast and beautiful color, it is a find worth digging up.

Warner Brothers’ second movie to be shot in the new, more lifelike process of three-strip Technicolor, Gold Is Where You Find It tells the true story of the battle between gold miners and farmers in Northern California during the 1870’s. George Brent stars as a mining engineer who falls in love with a farmer’s daughter (Olivia de Havilland). Claude Rains is her father who disapproves of miners and forbids Brent from courting her.

The romantic story, however, is quite secondary to the true and very realistically presented story of the ravages caused by the gold mining industry of that time. The original gold rush of the late 1840’s was long over and the lone prospector with his pan had been replaced by high-pressure water hoses, called “monitors,” that ripped the sides off mountains to uncover the ore. Sluices pulled the gold out of the water. The silt and dirt loosened from the mountains ran off into local rivers and streams.

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Gold Rush Maisie (American Themed Mining Movie – 1940)


Gold Rush Maisie is a 1940 drama film, the third of ten films starring Ann Sothern as Maisie Ravier, a showgirl with a heart of gold. In this entry in the series, she joins a gold rush to a ghost town. The film was directed by Edwin L. Marin.

On the way to an audition at the Hula Parlor Café, singer Maisie Ravier (Ann Sothern) gets trouble with her car in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. She manages to get to a ranch nearby, owned by a grumpy man namd Bill Anders (Lee Bowman), who gets overly friendly during the night.

Maisie barricades herself in her guest room and leaves early the next morning. When she finally arrives at the café, her position is already filled. Maisie meets a little girl named Jubie Davis (Virginia Weidler) and hears rumors about a gold rush in a nearby abandoned smalltown. The same day she leaves for Phoenix, riding with the Davis family, who are there because of the gold findings.

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Silver River (American Mining Themed Movie – 1948)



Silver River is a 1948 western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan. The film is based on a Stephen Longstreet novel.

During the American Civil War, soldier Mike McComb is cashiered from the army when he disobeys orders in order to prevent the Confederates from stealing the one million dollars he is guarding by burning the money. After being publicly humiliated by the townspeople, he and his friend ‘Pistol’ Porter confiscate gambling equipment and set out to Silver City, Nevada to open a saloon and gambling hall. On his way to St. Joseph, Mike meets Georgia Moore, a beautiful but serious woman that runs the Silver River mine with her husband Stanley and is currently hiring all the available wagons.

McComb wins ownership of the wagons in a poker game, much to Georgia’s anger. Although he allows her to travel with him, she is unamused with McComb’s playful behavior and soon abandons him. Once in Silver City, McComb, in a short time, builds the most successful saloon of the area. He hires John Plato Beck as his lawyer, an alcoholic but good-hearted man. Meanwhile, Georgia is worried when she finds out Stanley has bought back his wagons from McComb in exchange for 6,000 shares in the mine.

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