Norma Rae


D: Martin Ritt

20th Century Fox (Tamara Asseyev & Alex Rose)

US 1979

110 mins


W: Irving Ravetsch & Harriet Frank, Jr.

DP: John A. Alonzo

Ed: Sidney Levin

Mus: David Shire

Sally Field (Norma Rae Webster), Beau Bridges (Sonny Webster), Ron Leibman (Reuben Warshowsky), Pat Hingle (Vernon), Barbara Baxley (Leona), Gail Strickland (Bonnie)

Sally Field deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance of the title character, a struggling mother and an employee of a small town textile mill where her and her colleagues work in lousy conditions for meagre pay. Following the death of her father from a heart attack that could have averted, she becomes a union activist with the help of Reuben Warshowski, and is ostracised from her children, family and friends as she fights for justice in her workplace, eventually being fired for insubordination and jailed for causing civil unrest.

The story is inspired by the real-life events of Crystal Lee Sutton, who battled against the textile company J.P. Stevens in North Carolina during the early 70's.

Sally Field is excellent in this picture, and though it does have drag a little in fits and starts, it does have some incredibly powerful and dramatic scenes, particularly the iconic one where Norma Rae inspires her work colleagues to down tools, and another touching scene where she confesses to her children that their parentage isn't through her current husband.

The film was nominated for Best Picture in 1979, and won two awards, for Best Actress and Best Original Song (for the track that plays through the opening & closing credits, "It Goes Like It Goes").


Sally Field in Norma Rae
Sally Field in Norma Rae