U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

“Matewan” and Reagan

Again… really liked the movie and enjoyed the side movie debate. 

But I thought I would share this. Link.



It is about Reagan and the air-traffic controllers’ strike in 1981. Fairly new in office, Reagan was seen as an American cowboy, because of his Hollywood persona. This intimidation worked not only with foreign diplomats who sometimes didn’t separate the image of Reagan in his movies and in real life, but it also proved to be true domestically when a showdown took place with the strikers. All the air-traffic strikers’ jobs were terminated. Reagan the villain or this story? Unions certainly thought so. 


I bring up the Cowboy Showdown Allegory because someone had pointed out that Matewan had sort of the Western Movie archetype. In terms of the time, Matewan certainly would be suggesting a comparison between Reagan and the ruthless Detectives against the poor, hard-laboring workers.–Jackie Reed

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