Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

OUTTAKES

Union Label

August 17, 1986|Clarke Taylor

It wasn't easy for writer-director John Sayles to get financing for his most ambitious--and most political--movie to date.

"In Reagan-anti-labor America, a pro -union movie is not what everybody's dying to make," said Maggie Renzi, producer of the $4-million period piece, "Matewan." It begins filming in W. Va. locations on Sept. 3. The very political Haskell Wexler ("Medium Cool," "Latino") is the cinematographer.

NYC stage actor Chris Cooper is a young pacifist union organizer sent in 1920 to help miners in the face of violent opposition from coal mine operators. According to Renzi, Sayles' screenplay is based on an actual event in labor union history known as the Matewan Massacre.

Recalling the three-year struggle to find financing, she recounted a "typical" reaction from a would-be financier: "He showed disapproval of the main character because he clearly is a socialist, but he said if we cast a star, such as Rob Lowe, he might forgive the politics."

A spokesman for Cinecom International, which will distribute, said the company (which grossed $4 million from Sayles' last film, the $400,000 "Brother From Another Planet") saw commercial potential in the "High Noon" quality of the Matewan story. "At the same time," said the spokesman, "we have no problems with the politics."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|