The screenplay was inspired by an expose written by Lester Velie and published in the July 1955 issue of Readers Digest called "Gangsters in the Dress Business". The Hispanic workers at the garment factory and represented in the film are overworked, underpaid and fed up with it. When they try to fight back, they are oppressed with extreme violence. In real life, a union worker was killed by gangsters and the footage of the funeral is used in the film. The exploitation of Hispanic workers is still an ongoing problem today so this film could definitely open up the opportunity to have some round table discussions.
This is a film in which the execution is poor yet the cultural concept is interesting enough it makes it worth viewing. The acting is so-so and the story is weighed down by poorly written dialogue and weak romantic sub-plots. I was a bit disturbed by the widow Theresa being passed off to a new man before the first husband was even dead. It's not something that happens in the story per-say but as the audience member you know that it's coming. I also found the inclusion of racism a little forced. It's as though someone said "hey we need some derrogatory terms thrown at these Latino characters, let's say ''spic bum' a few times, that should do it!" Otherwise, culturally this film is representative of a volatile time in American history and serves well as a vehicle of looking at the present through the past.
Level of Brown Face: 1 out of 5 shades. Italian is Hispanic enough in this film...
TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 12th
Tortilla Flat (1942)
... And Now Miguel (1943)
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Salt of the Earth (1954)
The Garment Jungle (1957)