Salt Of The Earth

1953. SALT Of THE EARTH (1953-usa). WITH juan chacon, rosaura revueltas, will Geer. Directed by herbert biserman. It would be no exaggeration to call this film one Of the most fascinating and controversial ever produced in America. It was made independently, way outÂside the Hollywood mainstream, during the depths Of the McCarthy era. Those involved in front Of and behind the cameras (director Biberman, actor Ceer, producer paul Jarrico and screenwriter michael wilson) had all been blacklisted and were unable to work in their industry. Furthermore, the content Of its scenario is most intriguing, given the fact that the film was made durÂing one Of the most politically repressive eras Of American history. It is at once a story with a pro- labor/union, anti-big business point-Of-view, and a pull-no-punches denunciation Of racism and sexÂism. The setting is Grant County, New Mexico, and the based-on-fact scenario chronicles a group Of mineworkers who choose to strike against their bosses. While the story focuses on the tensions and conflicts between one specific, fictional Chicano married couple, the overall picture is the key here. That picture is not only one Of worker-versus-employer confrontation. There is strain between the Anglo and Chicano miners. Surely the men must learn to accept their differences and fight for, common good. Just as tellingly, the men view their wives in an unabashedly chauvinistic manner. Surely the women will prove themselves just as able as their men in playing a meaningful role in the strike. Many Of those in the cast were non-prOfessionals who were involved in the real conflict. Most impressive among them is Juan Chacon, a unionist cast in the role Of Ramon Quintero. Filming and post-production went anything but smoothly. Commie-baiting union leader Roy Brewer prohibÂited the involvement Of union workers during production, and refused to allow union projectionists to show the film upon its completion. Rep. Donald Jackson censured the film and its participants in the House Of Representatives. Howard Hughes tried to institute an industry-wide embargo Of post- production facilities. RevueltasÕ work on the project resulted in her deportation, before she could complete filming and post-production voice-overs. The film eventually was finished, but for years it was screened only in foreign countries or at union meetings. 94 minutes, Docu- Drama