Wobblies, The (1979)

“There was only one thing to do: you either stopped living, or you became a rebel.”

Synopsis:
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) share their experiences as radical activists.

Genres:

Review:
The Wobblies presents a thorough (if undeniably one-sided) look at a largely defunct radical labor group known as the Industrial Workers of the World (or the IWW). Bearing stylistic resemblance to Connie Field’s The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980), the film features interviews with a handful of remarkably lucid octogenarian-Wobblies, some early anti-union cartoon clips, and fascinating footage of American laborers from diverse industries. As an historical time capsule alone, The Wobblies remains an invaluable treasure.

P.S. Early in the film, we learn the etymology of the term “Wobblie”, which came about when a Japanese man tried to pronounce the initials “IWW” but couldn’t manage to say the letter “double-u”, instead replacing it with “wobblie”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An invaluable time capsule look at the IWW — and general labor issues — in the early 20th century
    Crowd
  • Some early anti-union cartoons, including one featuring Felix the Cat

Must See?
Yes, simply as an important historical document.

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One Response to “Wobblies, The (1979)”

  1. First viewing. A once-must; agreed re: its worth as an historical document.

    Simple and straightforward. Some of the content may not exactly be a surprise or new to most viewers. Nevertheless, the details are interesting and important for anyone interested in America and its workers – and that should be everybody.

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