Norma Rae (Blu-ray)

April 4, 2014 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

She might be small in stature, but Norma Rae (Sally Field) is larger than life when it comes to heart and personality. She is a widow, but has a young daughter to care for and like most of the people in her small town, she works at the Henley Mill. Although a lot of townsfolk have jobs there, the conditions are not good at all and since there is no union, it makes it hard to enact any sort of changes, no matter what kind. Of course, union representatives have tried to get involved, but for some reason, the townspeople have real doubts and of course, the mill owners know what kind of trouble a union could cause them. But when Norma Rae has had enough of working in substandard conditions, she meets with Reuben (Ron Leibman), a dedicated, but smart mouthed union representative from New York. The two decide to work toward improving the mill’s conditions, but it will be a most difficult and dangerous proposition.

I’d seen this one television a couple times, but I was looking forward to seeing it in widescreen, so I gave this disc a spin. I had tried to suffer through the commercials on television, but never managed to see this entire film and as such, I was interested to see the portions I had missed in previous sittings. I have to say, I wish I would have suffered through the breaks, as Norma Rae is a terrific movie and one I am now very pleased to own. The highlight is Sally Field’s excellent and Oscar winning performance, but the rest of the movie is also impressive, from the writing to the supporting cast members. In addition to Field’s outstanding effort, Beau Bridges and Ron Leibman also hand in terrific turns, as well as some others. I also love the production design here, as the costumes, sets, and locations all seem perfect, given the nature of the story and characters. I do admit some flaws do surface and it seems dated at times, but Norma Rae is a solid movie and one that deserves to be seen. I give this film a good recommendation and since Fox issued a nice disc, I think a rental or purchase is within reason.

This movie belongs to Sally Field, who lights up the screen in the title role and gives the performance of her career. Field seems to explode at times with emotion, which befits her character and really brings an impact to this picture. Her exterior is soft and beautiful, but inside, this little lady is fire and brimstone, just as it should be. I think that internal toughness would be very hard to bring across, but Field does so with flying colors and never loses her charm either, very impressive work indeed. As such, it is no wonder she took home the Best Actress Oscar back in 1979, as she deserved the praise and then some. You can also see Field in such films as Forrest Gump, Mrs. Doubtfire, Murphy’s Romance, Smokey and the Bandit, Eye For An Eye, Steel Magnolias, and Where The Heart Is. The cast here also includes Beau Bridges (Jerry Maguire, Swashbuckler), Gail Strickland (The American President, The Man in the Moon), Pat Hingle (Batman Forever, Maximum Overdrive), Barbara Baxley (Sea of Love, Nashville), and Ron Leibman (Slaughterhouse-Five, Night Falls On Manhattan).

Video: How does it look?

Norma Rae makes its debut on Blu-ray in a nice-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer courtesy of Fox. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the film, but right off the bat I was fairly impressed with how cleaned up the image looks. Granted it’s a bit gritty and grainy throughout, but this was intentional. I wouldn’t think this would have the soft focus of, say, Love Story. The contrast is more than stable, but not razor sharp, although detail is strong at most times. The film celebrates its 35th anniversary with this disc and the image has held up remarkably well. ┬áNicely done.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio mono mix is just that – a good-sounding mix out of one channel. The dialogue comes across well also, never harsh and always in fine form. I caught the slightest hint of some distortion in a few scenes, but it’s nothing to get worked up over. Again, this film is nearly 40 years old, and it’s never been one for dynamic audio. ┬áStill, little nuances aside, Norma Rae sounds pretty darn good.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Fox touts the Academy Awards the film was nominated for on the cover as well as the film’s 35th anniversary, but still offers up the same supplements found on the standard DVD released a decade ago.

  • Backstory: Norma Rae – Made for American Movie Classics and running twenty-two minutes, this features some interviews with various cast and crew members
  • Theatrical Trailer

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