Spoil Norma Rae For Me, Please

I doubt that I’ll ever get around to watching it.


(Disclaimer: I saw it the year it came out, and that was it. I was 14 and rather bored. My memory is mostly very hazy)

The Sally Field character, showing a lot of spunk, gumption and stick-to-it-iveness starts the union at her local mill.

Refreshingly, her and the union organizer guy don’t get romantically involved, even though the movie looks like it might be heading that way.

She wins the Oscar. But it isn’t until she wins another one that she believes they really like her.

Ana Gasteyer had a recurring Norma Rae parody sketch on SNL that’ll hilariously spoil it in the sense that you’ll never take the original seriously again.

It’s effective, and very much of its time. Sally Field had not yet become a parody of herself, as she was for a while, and so at the time the power of her performance took many people by surprise.

Conservatives will hate it. It’s nearly preachy in the explicitness of its political message–no subtext here; it’s all in your face–and it’s pretty sympathetic to its lefty characters. I’m a lefty, so that part doesn’t bother me. Well, the in-your-faceness bothers me a little, but the politics don’t.

This was filmed in my home town. My sister auditioned for the part of one of her kids. She was clearly the best looking and most talented one there, but they inexplicably cast a kid a couple of years older.

It’s “based on a true story.” If anything, it sweetens it up a lot. Life was really, really hard in the textile mills, and to say that management was corrupt doesn’t begin to tell the tale. I truly do not understand why the decendants of the people who fought and died for union representation are so virulently anti-union today. The union cannot have screwed them over worse than management did.

Other than that, it’s a nice movie.

A pity, nowadays Norma’s efforts would all have been in vain the mill would have been shipped of to Mexico a long time ago.

Heh - did you type that with a straight face?! This isn’t a cliche thread you know!


It contains one of my all-time favorite lines, when Norma Rae says that the Jewish New York labor organizer is complaining too much, she does it by throwing his Yiddish back at him with a Southern accent:
“Kah-vey-ich, kah-vey-ich, kah-vey-ich!”

(“Kvetch,Kvetch,Kvetch” in non-Southern)

But ironically she can’t take advantage of the union protections because her organizing activities get her fired.

I thought she and the union guy (Reuben) went swimming and hooked up at the swimmin’ hole.

One scene that stuck with me (partly because it was a good acting moment and partly because of my mystification at the construction of female anatomy) was when Jeff Bridges was bitching about how Norma Rae doesn’t cook or iron or make love with him and she slams around the kitchen, “You want cookin’? I’m cookin’. You want ironin’? I’m ironin’. You wanna make love? Lift up the back of my nighty and we’ll make love.”

Great movie, Oscar well deserved.

It was Beau Bridges, actually.

Ohhh, you mean instead of Norma Rae. That back of the nighty bit makes a lot more sense now.


Damn. I went a Bridges too far.

There’s a lot of sexual tension between them but neither acts on it. Reuben may or may not have an issue cheating on his wife (at one point he eludes to her giving him permission but it is during an argument with Norma so who knows if it was serious). The “oh if only the world was different” romantic plot with Norma and Reuben is really top notch. It sticks out because I think that movie is the only one where that actor plays a good guy.

As a union organizer, I know a lot of people whose spouses give them a wink-wink free-reign while on the road. Odd, I know.

Thank goodness I rarely watched SNL then. The original should be taken seriously. It’s an excellent movie, and Sally Field shines in it.

Other than being informed that she was on SNL by the above post, I have zero knowledge about who Ana Gasteyer is, and I don’t see her name around in anything else worthwhile, but Norma Rae, as a concept, as an ideal, as a character, as a movie, will live on as long as films are preserved. I wouldn’t even list the movie in my Top 100 favorites, but I like it a lot, and respect it greatly.

Besides, it’s got that wonderful Jennifer Warnes song at the end (“It Goes Like It Goes”). That alone is worth 20 forgotten SNL revolving door comedians.