Best Movies for Labor Day
Below are MOVIEGUIDE®’s picks for Best Movies for Labor Day. These movies don’t just celebrate workers, they celebrate hard work, integrity, humility, and service.
- THE LILIES OF THE FIELD: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4– 1963: This wonderful family movie teaches the Gospel in a winsome, entertaining way that’s unsurpassed by most other movies. In the story, a group of German nuns transplanted to Southwest America convince a young black laborer to help them build a local church. In the meantime, the young man teaches the nuns the joys of Pentecostal Protestant worship focused on Jesus and His Gospel. Both Jesus and the local church are lifted up, and Sidney Poitier’s performance as the laborer is absolutely wonderful.
- SCROOGE: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3− 1951: Starring Alastair Sim, this well-crafted and faithful version of Dickens’ classic is so good it can be watched year round. Sim does a marvelous job of bringing Scrooge to life in this heartwarming classic. Furthermore, Tiny Tim is adorable, and the Cratchit family is absolutely heartwarming and tear-jerking. Scrooge’s assistant, Bob Cratchit, is seen as an honorable worker who finally gets he respect and care he deserves.
- HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY:Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3 – 1941: This is John Ford’s wonderful Academy Award winning saga of a Welsh family in a coal mining town. HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY not only celebrates family life; it also celebrates the hard-working coal miners whose way of life is disappearing.
- METROPOLIS (silent):Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +3– Germany − 1929:This classic science fiction movie is full of biblical symbolism and allegory. The city represents heaven and earth, as well as the caste distinctions to be found in a mercantilist/socialist state. Maria preaches reconciliation and new life through the intervention of a mediator between the rulers and the people. Rotwang, the priest/scientist, is the Adversary who wants to make the world over in his image. Freder becomes the Christ-like mediator, ready to sacrifice himself to save others. This movie rebukes the mercantilism which was rearing its ugly head as National Socialism in Germany. The film sternly condemns the revolutionary leader, the robot Maria, a counterfeit savior in the tradition of Barabbas, Hitler and Lenin, who leads the people to death and destruction. At the same time, it lifts up the Mediator, who comes to bring peace. METROPOLIS is as popular today as when it was made.
- DRIVING MISS DAISY: Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +2 – 1989:A warm movie about an embittered, elderly Jewish lady, who has known poverty and prejudice, but who finds reconciliation, hope and love through the Christian kindness, mercy and humility of her elderly black chauffeur, who handles his work with grace and excellence.
- HOOSIERS:Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1− 1987:Readers of sports magazines rank HOOSIERS as their favorite sports flick. Based on the true story of tiny Hickory, Indiana’s 1951 high school basketball team, HOOSIERS is a classic David versus Goliath movie. Hard work overcomes inborn talent in this classic sports drama.
- ROCKY:QUALITY: * * * * Acceptability: -1 – 1977:Another quintessential underdog sports drama where hard work and integrity are validated, but this time they’re extolled as valuable in and of themselves, no matter the outcome (remember, Rocky actually loses at the end of the first movie). It does have some foul language, sensuality and lots of boxing violence, so caution is advised.
- GOODBYE MR. CHIPS:Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +4– 1939: Robert Donat won a well-deserved Oscar for his memorable portrayal of the shy schoolmaster who devotes his life to “his boys,” and not only inspired generations of students to love school but inspired such movies as MUSIC OF THE HEART, MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS, STAND & DELIVER, LEAN ON ME, and many, many more. Greer Garson is brilliant as his wife.
- STAND AND DELIVER:Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1– 1988:In this true story of compassion triumphing over alienation, Jaime Escalante gives up his lucrative computer design job to teach at an Hispanic high school. There, he shows his students that developing the mind takes hard work.
- SEVEN SAMURAI (subtitled): Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +1– Japan − 1954: This is Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece about 16th Century peasants who hire warriors to defend their village from bandits who loot and pillage. The ending shows that it’s the peasant farmers, those who work hard to till the soil, who are the real heroes.