Archive | Mining Movies

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

Poldark (British Mining Themed BBC Series – 2015)

Poldark is a series of historical novels by Winston Graham. They have been adapted to the television screen twice by the BBC, with Poldark airing in 1975 and 1977 and a new version, also called Poldark, beginning in 2015.

The main character, Ross Poldark, a British Army officer, returns to his home in Cornwall from the American Revolutionary War only to find that his fiancée, Elizabeth Chynoweth, having believed him dead, is about to marry his cousin, Francis Poldark. Ross attempts to restore his own fortunes by reopening one of the family’s tin mines. After several years he marries Demelza Carne, a servant girl, and is gradually reconciled to the loss of Elizabeth’s love. By then, Elizabeth has become a widow and marries George Warleggan, Ross’s arch-enemy.

There are a total of twelve novels. The first seven novels are set in the 18th century, until Christmas 1799. The remaining five are concerned with the early years of the 19th century and the lives of the children of the main characters of the previous novels. Winston Graham wrote the first four Poldark books during the 1940s and 1950s. Following a long hiatus, he decided to resume the series, and The Black Moon was published in 1973. Continue Reading →

Moon 44 (American Themed Mining Movie – 1990)

Moon 44 is a 1990 science fiction action film from Centropolis Film Productions, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Michael Paré and Lisa Eichhorn and co-starring Brian Thompson.


By the year 2038 all of Earth’s natural resources have been depleted. Multinational corporations have taken control of the galaxy and rival companies battle each other for access to mining planets. A major battle is for Moon 44, a fuel mining operation in the Outer Zone. It is the only installation still controlled by the Galactic Mining corporation. Moons 46, 47 and 51 have recently been overtaken by the Pyrite Defense Company’s battle robots.

Galactic Mining had its own defence system, helicopters capable of operating in the violent atmospheres of the moons, but it was cancelled as too many pilots died while in training. The company sends new navigators to Moon 44 to assist the pilots. However, there is still a shortage of pilots, so the company is forced to use prisoners. Galactic Mining regards its fleet of mining shuttles as even more important, so if the base is attacked, the shuttles are ordered to leave the crews behind. Continue Reading →

White Fang (American Disney Themed Mining Movie – 1991)

White Fang is a 1991 American adventure film directed by Randal Kleiser, starring Ethan Hawke, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Seymour Cassel. Based on Jack London’s novel White Fang, it tells the story of the friendship between a Yukon gold hunter and a wolfdog.


In the late 19th Century, a young explorer named Jack Conroy arrives in Alaska from San Francisco and meets a musher named Skunker and his late father’s buddy Alex Larson, a rugged guide who reluctantly agrees to take Jack to his father’s claim. While on their journey, they are stalked by a large pack of wolves. while resting at a campfire at nightfall, a female wolf manages to lure one of the sled dogs (Digger) away from the group, another wolf appears and chases the dog into the woods, Skunker uses his ammunition to wound one wolf and gives chase to save his dog, but is killed and devoured by the rest of the pack.

Later that night the wolves return but are scared off by Jack and Alex using burning branches. The following morning the wolves attack the two men, but they are saved when another sled team arrives with one of the men fatally shooting a female wolf, her pup (which is half dog) is left to fend for itself. Continue Reading →