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Sunday Classics Matinee: Labor Day Weekend

by Robb Reel

I don't imagine you'll have much movie time over Labor Day weekend.  Barbecues, football and family fun are likely to eat up most of the three days.  Perhaps weather, darkness or just being worn out may lead you to the couch to kick back.  As you relax from the toils of your own work to celebrate, here are a few films that celebrate the working men and women that built, and are continuing to build, our great nation.

The movie that made Brando "Brando," On the Waterfront won a cascade of Oscars -- including Eva Marie Saint in her debut performance --  bringing a series of New York Sun articles to life, chronicling corruption, extortion, violence and racketeering.

Henry Fonda stars in the adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck's masterpiece look at migrant workers during the Depression.  Speaking of John Ford...

What film could be good enough to take Best Picture over Citizen Kane?  Director John Ford brought to life Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley, about Welsh coal miners, and introduced much of the world to the feisty Maureen O'Hara.

Sean Connery leads an underground force -- that means two things -- of miners in 19th-Century Pennsylvania in The Molly Maguires.

Sally Field scored her first Oscar as Norma Rae, a Carolina cotton-mill worker who literally stands up to unionize her coworkers.

Jack Nicholson embodies Jimmy Hoffa, the most famous -- or is that infamous -- labor leader in American history.

Meryl Streep portrays Karen Silkwood, who may have paid the ultimate price in fighting for nuclear-power workers' safety.

Gene Hackman coaches Keanu Reeves and The Replacements to a much funnier play on labor strife.

The first time Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn teamed was for The Devil and Miss Jones, a lighthearted look at unionizing where the shoe is on the other foot -- again, that means two things.

Happy Labor Day and enjoy the weekend.