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The Molly Maguires

3.8 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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(Apr 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Based on a true story of the Irish-American secret society of militant coal miners in Pennsylvania who battle their exploitation with violence and even murder.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: PG
Release Date: 27-APR-2004
Media Type: DVD

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Richard Harris, Samantha Eggar, Frank Finlay, Anthony Zerbe
  • Directors: Martin Ritt
  • Writers: Walter Bernstein, Arthur H. Lewis
  • Producers: Martin Ritt, Walter Bernstein
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Surround Sound, Digital Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001FGBLG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,539 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Molly Maguires" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Flannery on April 19, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This is as good a movie about coal mining as you get until Matewan comes along. Connery, Harris and Eggar are excellent; Ritt's direction is wonderful. I am the descendent of Irish immigrant miners who worked the same fields as the film portrays, and I do not detect a false note in the portrayal of "patch" life, even after numerous viewings. BTW, the "patch" portrayed in this film is an actual town in Pennsylvania -- Eckley, about 10 miles outside of Hazelton -- and has been restored by the State Museum Commission as a bit of living history.
That being said, a few additional comments:
1. "It's dark and gloomy..." -- DUH! IT'S ABOUT LIFE IN A COAL MINE!
2. Walter Bernstein's script did not have the benefit of Kevin Kenny's "Making Sense of the Molly Maguires" (1997). If he had, his script would have been very different, because the Mollies were, to a large degree, a fiction devised by Franklin Gowan to justify the virtual slavery of Irish immigrants in his coalfields. Yes, many Irish miners were hung for murder. No, these murders were never proven. These men were labor martyrs.
3. The myth of Molly violence led to the hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which made its money in the 19th century by infiltrating labor organizations and framing their members (who had the temerity to suggest things like a living wage) on any number of trumped up charges to the authorities. McKenna was a particularly loathsome example of the sort of human dregs they hired.
In short, this is a lost American film classic, as good in its way as John Ford's "Grapes of Wrath". It has the power to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable -- and what better can be said of a work of art?
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Format: DVD
James Wong Howe's cinematography looks beautiful on the restored DVD version of this underrated film, an unearthly intervention which brings us the actual physicality of the 19th century in light and radiance. It was an era in which electric light was just being invented and candles and gaslight were still the norm, that is, among people with the money to afford them. The unwashed faces of the coal miners and the families they supported form a canvas from Brueghel, but even the whole weight of the mining companies cannot extinguish the inner spark in their eyes.

Filmed by the Left-leaning director Martin Ritt, freed up from the blacklist that crippled the earlier part of his career, THE MOLLY MAGUIRES finds Ritt at a curious place, picking at the ugly scab of US history that the scandalous MOLLY MAGUIRES represents. Indeed historians argue whether or not there was ever a conspiracy among Fenians to bring down the oligarchy of the oppressive coal mining companies through so-called "shillelagh law." Ritt was able to attract not only Richard Harris but top-billed Sean Connery to this project; for each of them a commercial risk. Indeed the movie, re-edited at the studio by nervous bosses, probably doesn't represent the script that Connery and Harris read. Samantha Eggar, one of the loveliest of 60s screen actresses, took the leading women's role which was turned down by Anjanette (LOVED ONE) Comer. Oddly enough, thirty years later, Comer took the minor part of "Sue" in TV's recreation of the nine miners in Pennsylvania who were rescued from the Quecreek cave-in in the summer of 2002.

Yes, the film is depressing. Yes, it is slow-moving, sparked by moments of intense brutality. But give it a chance and savor its unique blend of 1870s locations and 1970 radical filmmaking.
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Format: DVD
Martin Ritt has a central theme that he explores in almost every film he makes. What unites and seperates us? He's become the master of that extremely difficult question and this film, for my money, was one of his best explorations of that theme/question.

It's about the workers and the company- 'the ones who push up or push down- who has more push?', as Connery's character sums up. It's about the choices people make to get up, get ahead or to get out. Ultimately, it's about compromised positions and consequences that come from such compromise.

Connery and Harris are terrific in this movie- the two sides of the coin. Harris has the tough role as the detective 'sent in' who struggles with both sides of the coin. Connery (just as his Bond days were coming to an end), does a slow boil to a funeral scene where he lets it rip. His dad was a soft spoken Irishman, he once said in an interview. I swear he vented something wonderful about the meek and good in this world, in this scene, that rocks with truth. " They haven't even left him with a proper suit to be buried in! " Watch him in this- one of Connery's finest performances.

Mancini captures the Irish flavour with a terrific score and Samantha Edgar and Frank Finlay and Anthony Zerbe lend their talents, as well.

Another buried treasure that deserves the sunlight. If you want a good film with some history, some food for thought and some fine performances, treat yourself to this.
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Format: VHS Tape
This movie gives viewers insight to the harsh reality of the industrialization of the United States and the exploitation of immigrants in the coal mines. The characters offer a complexity of emotions as they struggle to survive at the mercy of the powerful mining companies and corrupt police system of 1870s. Sean Connery gives a solid performance as Jack Kehoe, a Molly Maguire whose lack of trust of outsiders is penetrated by a company detective posing as a coal miner. The story is not only entertaining but also historically accurate.
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