Sally Field stars as a Norma Rae, a white trash mill worker who has two kids and a stream of gentlemen callers. One day a union organizer (Ron Leibman from Rhinestone) comes to town trying to get the mill workers to join the union. Of course, the factory bosses don’t like him sniffing around their workers and treat him like dog doo-doo. Norma takes a liking to him and tries to him the workers get unionized and she gets harassed and even jailed for having a big mouth. Eventually everyone votes for the union and Norma can finally quit bugging everybody.
Norma Rae is a well acted, finely directed film that always holds your attention. I can’t call it great or anything because it sometimes went the soap opera route when it focused on the potential love triangle between Norma, the union dude, and her husband (Beau Bridges). It also doesn’t help that a textile mill isn’t exactly the most cinematic location for a film.
These quibbles aside, the flick works largely due to the fact that Field is pretty much irresistible in the role. Sally was in between Smokey and the Bandit movies and must’ve figured she’d grab herself an Oscar before she jumped back in the Trans Am with Burt. The scene in which she defiantly holds a “Union” sign in the middle of the work floor is pretty good and will have you humming “Look for the Union label...” The supporting cast is also excellent and includes such exploitation favorites as Bob (Delinquent School Girls) Minor, Frank (Licence to Kill) McRae and Gregory (Plan 9 from Outer Space) Walcott.