A poor, provincial single mother (Sally Field) laboring in poor work conditions alongside her father in a Southern textile mill acquaints rabble rousing New Yorker (Ron Liebman) sent by the union and gradually becomes involved in the cause. Norma Rae is an impeccably filmed, late career outing from versatile, socially conscious director Martin Ritt (Sounder, Hud, The Spy who Came in From the Cold) and a showcase for Field although the picture is anticlimactic, doesn't really have a conclusion, and leaves several things open. Liebman is obnoxious and given to preaching (both of which are called for however) and Beau Bridges, playing Field's affectionate coworker, has a thankless, and underdeveloped role. Despite its flaws, it is still a pleasure to see a work of such care and craft that feels largely absent from today's productions.
*** out of ****