Feature Film

Classic - Art House - Drama - History

United States 1954 | 94 Min

Salt of the Earth

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Subtitles in

The workers are the base of every company


Classic Art House Drama History


communism strike neo realism miners mexicans new mexico




Esperanza Quintero is a miner's wife in Zinc Town, New Mexico, a community which is essentially run and owned by Delaware Zinc Inc. Esperanza is thirty-five years old, pregnant with her third child and emotionally dominated by her husband, Ramon Quintero. The majority of the miners are Mexican-Americans and want decent working conditions equal to those of white, or "Anglo" miners. The unionized workers go on strike, but the company refuses to negotiate and the impasse continues for months. Esperanza gives birth and Ramon is jailed for assaulting a union worker who betrayed his fellows. When Ramon is released, Esperanza tells him that he's no good to her in jail. He counters that if the strike succeeds they will not only get better conditions right now but also win hope for their children's futures. Any miner who picket will be arrested. Taking advantage of a loophole, the wives picket in their husbands' places. Esperanza is forbidden to picket by Ramon at first, but she eventually joins the line while carrying her baby. The sheriff, by company orders, arrests the leading women of the strike. Esperanza is among those taken to jail. When she returns home, Ramon tells her the strike is hopeless, as the company will easily outlast the miners. She insists that the union is stronger than ever and asks Ramon why he can't accept her as an equal in their marriage. The next day the company evicts the Quintero family from their house. The union men and women arrive to protest the eviction. Ramon tells Esperanza that they can all fight together. The mass of workers and their families proves successful in saving the Quinteros' home. The company admits defeat and plans to negotiate. Esperanza believes that the community has won something no company can ever take away and it will be inherited by her children.


Herbert J. Biberman


Michael Wilson


Rosaura Revueltas
Will Geer
David Wolfe
Mervin Williams
David Sarvis
Ernesto Velázquez
Juan Chacón
Henrietta Williams


Paul Jarrico


Stanley Meredith, Leonard Stark

Production Designer


Joan Laird, Ed Spiegel


Sol Kaplan