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LGM Film Club: Part 173: The Killing Floor


I recently watched the 1984 PBS production The Killing Floor, about the Great Migration and Black labor in Chicago meatpacking during World War I and leading up to the World War I race riots. It’s quite good, clearly pro-union but clearly not agitprop, giving dignity to everyone in the film, from the main character who becomes one of the few Black union leaders to the most anti-union Black worker. The latter’s motivations are never quite explained, but he clearly has real reasons to not support the union. The film’s production values are a bit PBS, meaning they could use a good sprucing up, but the film itself is one of the better pro-labor films out there. Damien Leake is fantastic as the unionist. A young Alfre Woodard is his wife, though she isn’t given enough to do. You even get some Dennis Farina action as the asshole foreman. For a bit more information, here’s a review from its remastering. And here’s the trailer:

There’s also an interview with Bill Duke, the director.

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