The Molly Maguires 1970 (1970) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: In the Pennsylvanian coal mines of 1876, a group of Irish immigrant workers begin to retaliate against the cruelty of their work environment. Runtime: 124 mins Release Date: 14 Sep 1970
A truly excellent and engaging historical drama! (by patricksfolly)
This film is a gem! The cinematography, costumes, sets, script, and acting are all excellent. The story is totally engaging. Some people might be turning off by the slow start, but it's the perfect set up to a brilliant piece of cinema. With all of that said, some people take this film as historical truth. That's where there are major gray areas.This film was based loosely on the accounts of one man, James McPharlan Harris' character , and at that doesn't stick too close to his account of infiltrating an underground organization of Irish coal miners who were fronted by the <more>
Ancient Order of Hiberians. Hollywood, of course, sexed up the plot and stream lined it so that it would be easier to follow. Not surprising really. The realities of the situation in the Pennsylvania coal fields in the 1860's and 1870's and America in general following the Civil War were very complex. The film didn't have time to cover these details. Like so many historical topics it would take a mini series at least to cover it well.What this film does do very well is inspire one to study. It's an interesting and little known or understood part of American history. There are a lot of opinions on all sides of the situation that still stir people today. This was effectively the beginning of the labor movement in America. The course of action portrayed in this film led to the establishment of unions.I watched this movie many times as a child and still do today. It inspired me to read a lot about the Molly Maguires if they really existed at all and even go all the way across country I'm from Seattle to rural Pennsylvania to see the place for myself. That's what brilliant film making is all about. To inspire a person to understand the world around them more and hopefully take a closer look at it.Another thing that this film does brilliantly is it leaves the protagonist very open and allows the viewer to decide where, ultimately, their loyalties lay. Connery's character appeals to our sense of social justice. The little guy going against the big machine that oppresses him and all like him. Harris on the other hand is the man who goes against what he feels is right to do what is ultimately correct by catching, what are after all, a group of thugs and murderers in reality McPharlan didn't have this complex clash of conscience. He thought they were all guilty scum who deserved to be hanged. . It's very Hollywood, but very effective.
This film is a real sleeper. Great cast, well acted, beautifully written, scored, and photographed. There are scenes in it, particularly between Harris and Connery, that are among the best acted by either of these two gentlemen. And if you are a fan of either? You will be seeing them in a fine yet overlooked gem of a film. While in their prime. And doing some of the very best work of their careers. Connery, in a part light-years from James Bond, plays the ultimately doomed Jack Keogh with an understated eloquence and quiet nobility. While Harris as the Detective James McParland, and <more>
infiltrator of the Mollies, plays his part with an amiable flair that at first wins us over just as he wins the affection and trust of the men and women he eventually betrays so that in the end, we are let down and made to feel the coldness of his Judas act just as if he has betrayed us as well.
The current DVD distribution is missing a scene from the original theatrical distribution.In the original church scene, Sean Connery stands up and challenges the priest when he talks about violence, asking what about the violence committed against the workers in mines? It is this harsh verbal altercation during the service that prompts the comment by Richard Harris after the service about "arguing with the priest," referring to the major back and forth from the pulpit to the pews between Sean Connery and the priest, not the minor chit-chat after the service.What happened to the <more>
scene? Anyone know?I always remember this since it was neat to see someone willing to stand up to Catholic Church hypocrisy.Anyone else remember this forgotten scene?
According to the Films of Sean Connery, the genesis of The Molly Maguires was a visit to the set of Director Martin Ritt;s Hombre in which Connery's then wife Diane Cilento was in the cast. Ritt had the idea for The Molly Maguires back then and asked Connery if he'd give him the commitment. Connery was intrigued and said yes. But it took over four years to get the project rolling.The Molly Maguires has the ring of authenticity to it because Martin Ritt chose to shoot it in an almost abandoned Pennsylvania coal town of Ecksley. Filming the story in a place where the Molly Maguires were <more>
active lends a lot of credibility to the film. The Mollys were a secret cell within the Catholic fraternal society of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The Irish immigrants spread all over America and a good deal of them arrived in the Pennsylvania coal country where they became miners. A trade not unknown in Ireland as that country has considerable deposits of the stuff. The workers were terribly exploited, having to live in the company town, buy at the company store, and pay for damaged equipment. That together with the health problems we know now about in the mining industry.There was no organized labor movement yet and the Mollys were at times the only protections those miners had. They'd be considered terrorists now, but an important thing to remember is that unlike today's terrorists, their acts of violence were never random.One thing I did like was the fact that the company policeman were Protestant and Welsh. That was the generation who were the previous people in the mines. The next generation of coal miners were from Eastern Europe, but that's getting ahead of ourselves. The ethnic conflicts are quite explicit in this film.Richard Harris plays James McParlan another Irish immigrant sent by the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate and destroy the Mollys. Connery is Jack Kehoe the leader of them and very suspicious of Harris when he first arrives to work at the mines. The story as told in the film sticks pretty close to the truth of what happened in Pennsylvania in the 1870s. Informers are not a group that's looked up to in any culture, but the Irish traditionally do have a special disdain for them.The film is a clash between two men, Harris who wants to rise in class and willing to sell anyone out to do it and Connery whose methods maybe wrong, but has the genuine interest of his fellow miners at heart. After the business in Pennsylvania is concluded and after the action of this film, the real McParlan rose high in the Pinkerton agency, but his name was an anathema among his own people.The Molly Maguires is a well crafted piece of cinema that unfortunately failed to find an audience back in 1970. Today it's considered a masterpiece and deservedly so.
Good story line. Well played. Excellent cast, with some lesser seen actors. Enjoyed this film throughout. Constantly moving story. Historically accurate as I understand. Good example of Sean Connery's earlier non-Bond work.
Missjudged classic (by mim-8)
The Molly Maguires is a movie which has become better over the years. I am surprised that it was commercially unsuccessful in it's day, since it's absolutely no worse than similar movies of those years such as "Ryan's daughter", "Emperor of the north", or much appraised movies of later years like "Matewan", which explores the same topic of conflict between oppressed working class and the system that's exploiting them. This film is beautifully photographed, and the acting is brilliant, especially from Richard Harris and Sean Connery. The sets are <more>
magnificent, and the viewer can feel and sympathize with the burden of the coal miners and their families working and struggling against the system that is grinding them down, and that they can not change, even if they give their lives in the course of that struggle. This film deserved much more and I just think that this is a classic that has to be recognized. 9/10
I just wanted to add that I worked in the Carbon County Prison in 1993. They filmed the movie in the actual prison where I worked and to be totally honest, nothing really changed since the 1870's to the current time. I was amazed when I rented the movie right after working my first shift and it was exactly the same, nothing was changed. They built a new prison and all the inmates where moved in the spring of 1994. In the old prison, the hand print was still visible in the cell left by one of the molly Maguires that swore his innocence. They were hung in the middle of the cell block. The <more>
cell block was repainted an ugly lime green years ago and the hand print still came thru the paint. This cell was always closed and did not house any inmates. I remember they even had the TV show "Unsolved Mysteries" come and look at the hand print. They currently run tours in the old prison which is located in Jim Thorpe, Pa.
Having been born and raised in the area this picture was filmed in,naturally I feel a bond to it. Add to that the fact that Richard Harris,one of my favorite actors stars in the film,and its a must see for me. Looking past that the film is riviting. Harris and Connery carry the film as the Cat and Mouse in this Coal town saga each playing to their professional strengths while adding a bit of their own to the roles. The supporting cast is just as strong,particularly the lovely and talented Samantha Eggar and the underused shakespearean actor Frank Finley. On a personal note,two of my early <more>
mentors in theatre,J. Gerald Godwin and Jane Tomassetti have small roles in the film as the Paymaster and Miliner respectivley. To sum it up..Molly McGuires is a film that you can sink your teeth into..and no matter which side of the conflict you find yourself on you can see what it was that drove men to do what they did.This film will not fail to keep you on the edge of your seat and make you think in the process.
Deserves to be remembered for its artistic merits rather than for the money it lost at the box-office (by JamesHitchcock)
"The Molly Maguires" is based on actual events which occurred in the coal mining districts of North- Eastern Pennsylvania during the 1870s, a period of great unrest in the American mining industry. The causes of this unrest were complex, and involved ethnic and religious factors as well as purely economic ones. Most of the miners had been recruited from Britain or Ireland, and there was constant tension between the mainly Catholic Irish miners and those from mainland Britain, especially Wales, who were mostly Protestants. There are few coalmines in Ireland, so the Irish miners <more>
tended to have little previous experience of the industry and hence found themselves employed in unskilled, low-paid jobs.In some respects, American miners of this period were better off than their British counterparts. The film was shot on location in a genuine 19th-century mining community in Eckley, Pennsylvania, and the solid detached wooden houses provided by the mining company are far more spacious than the cramped brick terraces which would have formed a typical mining village in contemporary Britain. Nevertheless, the work was hard and dangerous and poorly paid; at first sight the wages seemed generous enough, but so much was taken off in various fines and deductions that the miners were often left out-of-pocket. Moreover, wages were paid in tokens which could only be exchanged at the company store, a practice which would have been illegal in Britain, where workers could insist on being paid in coin of the realm.As the film opens, we learn that the miners have recently been on strike in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain better pay and conditions, but have been forced back to work by starvation. Another factor, apparently, was attacks on striking miners by local anti-Catholic or anti-immigrant vigilantes . Despairing of being able to obtain justice by conventional industrial action, a group of Irish miners have set up a chapter of the Molly Maguires, a secret society which uses terrorist methods to achieve its aims, including sabotage and the murder of hardline coal owners or mine officials. The film tells the story of James McParlan, a former miner turned detective who is employed by the coal owners to infiltrate the society.When the film came out in 1970 it was considered a major box-office failure, despite being made on a big budget for its time and having two major stars in Richard Harris as McParlan and Sean Connery as Jack Kehoe, the leader of the Molly Maguires. Perhaps the American public during the Nixon era were not interested in a movie about working-class characters which was made from a left-wing standpoint by a director, Martin Ritt, who had been blacklisted in the fifties for his alleged Communist affiliations. Another factor which might have alienated American viewers is that, unusually for a film set in America, all the leading parts are played by British or Irish actors . Ritt and his scriptwriter Walter Bernstein also blacklisted do not condone the terrorist methods of the "Mollies", and an important character is the Catholic priest who reminds his flock that violence is contrary to the ideals of their Christian faith. There can, however, be no doubt that the film's sympathies are with the hard-working miners struggling to make a decent living rather than with their grasping, stony-hearted employers.The acting is very good. The film was made at a time when Sean Connery had temporarily relinquished his Bond role to George Lazenby although he would briefly reclaim it the following year in "Diamonds are Forever" and was looking to widen his range as an actor, and a gritty social drama like "The Molly Maguires" is about as different a film as one can get from glossy action-adventures like the Bonds. Connery's accent sometimes sounds more Scottish than Irish, but I doubt if many American viewers would have noticed this, and he gives a performance of great power and sincerity, one of his best in a non-Bond film. Richard Harris is perhaps even better than Connery, portraying McParlan as a man torn between his own self-advantage and a certain sympathy with the miners' cause. There is another good contribution from Frank Finlay as Davies, the Welsh-born police officer who acts as McParlan's controller.The film is also visually beautiful. Ritt had originally intended to make it in black-and-white, but was dissuaded from doing so by the studio; the advent of colour television had generally made black-and-white films uneconomic by 1970. It was therefore made in quiet, muted colours appropriate to its subject-matter and to the grimy, soot-blackened appearance of the area. Using this limited palette, Ritt is able to achieve a stark, sombre grandeur; particularly notable is the wordless opening sequence of around fifteen minutes. There is also a fine soundtrack composed by Henry Mancini."The Molly Maguires" was not a success when it first came out, and even today seems to be little-known. Mine is only the twenty-seventh comment it has received . Yet in my view this is a fine film, one like Cimino's "Heaven's Gate" also set in the late 19th century and told from a left-wing viewpoint which deserves to be remembered for its artistic merits rather than for the money it lost at the box-office. 8/10