Matewan (1987) Script


Shootin' coal!

Shootin' coal!

Danny. What in god's name are you doing?

I got a shot set up back there.

Word come down from Turley.

Tonnage rate?

They brung it down to 90 cent a ton.

Down? Them dagos are holding fast in number 3.

He says take it or leave it.

Sephus, what are we going to do?

/f were 1920 in the southwest field, and things was tough.

The miners was trying to bring the union fo West Virginia, and the coal operators and their gun thugs was set on keeping them out.

7ell them in the country tell them in the town & miners down in mingo lay their shovels down We won't pull another pillar load another fon & or lift another finger till the union we have won & stand up, boys, let the bosses know & turn your buckets over turn your lanterns low i there's fire in our hearts and fire in our soul & but there ain't gonna be no fire in the hole &

7hem was hand-loading days.

They paid you by the ton, and they didn't care no more for a man than they done for a draft mule.

Them was hard people, your coal miners then.

They wasn't nobody you wanted to cross.

Get back. Get back.

Get back. Get back.

& well, daddy died a miner granapa, he did too &

I'll bet this coal will kill me fore my working days is through &

When a hole is dark and dirty an early grave you'll find &

I plan to make a union for the ones I leave behind & stand up, boys, let the bosses know & turn your buckets over turn your lanterns low there's fire in our hearts and fire in our soul & but there ain't gonna be no fire in the hole & there ain't gonna be no fire in the hole I

so push come to shove, and pretty soon we had us a war down there in mingo county, which in them days was known as bloody mingo.

And that's where it all come fo a head, there on tug fork, in the town of matewan.

We done it, mama. We're going to have the union!

Just got to stop for a little repair.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

It's the bolshevists, is what.

Some of them fellas went over to the war there, and they come back red.

It's just like a disease. It spreads.

Well, they shipped in all kinds of Italians, right off the boat.

They're still bringing coal out of there.

I'd sure hate to get a whiff of that mine shaft.

What the hell are we stopping for?

Step down, gentleman. This here'll be your new home.

How come we ain't getting off in town?

Just get in line.

Get out of here!

Get back! Get on the train!

Ah, my nose!

I'm going to kill him! When I get him, I'll kill him...

Hey, get on the train! Get on!

Come on, few!

Come on, few! Come on!

Come on, few! Give me your hand right here.

Get out of here!

Get out of here! Don't come back, boy.

Don't you ever come back.

Hey, when do we get to Matewan?

You don't want to go there, mister. Ain't nothing but crazy people.



Everybody was here, then they got word and they gone on up the line a ways.

Some kind of union business.

Yeah, I saw.

You best steer clear of it.

My name's bridey Mae Tolliver.

Uh, Joe Kenehan.

You know Radnor's boardinghouse?

Big white house, right on past the coal dock.

She's a real sourpuss, though, Elma Radnor.

Thank you.

You going to be in town long?

Ah, it depends.

I'll see you around.

I hope so.

These picks and shovels are to be considered a loan from the stone mountain coal company.

Their cost will be deducted from your first month's pay.

Tool-sharpening provided by the company is 25 cents a month.

Use of the wash house is 75 cents a month.

Medical doctor provided by the company is $2 a month, special procedures extra.

Your train ride here, provided by the company, will be deducted from your first month's pay.

Your pay will be issued as company scrip, redeemable for all goods and services at the stone mountain company store.

Purchases of any items available at the company store from outside merchants will result in firing without pay.

What's to keep you all from jacking up them prices at your store?


Johnson. They calls me few clothes.

Powder, fuses, lamps, headgear, all appropriate clothing will be available at the company store, and stone mountain will generously advance you a month's supply of these items, payment to be deducted.

I'm gonna take you over to camp now where you'll be living.

There's some Italian gentleman there very eager to meet you.

Rentals will be for one room, $2.50 a month.

Company rule, no more than two people to one room, children included.

Electricity, where that is feasible, will be $1 a month.

Coal for heating will be supplied by the company.

Mrs. radnor?


My name is Joe Kenehan.

I'm going to be in town for a bit and your place here was recommended.

What do you do?

I guess I'm looking for work.

You with the company?

The company?

You ain't with the company, there ain't no work.

Look, mister, don't act the lamb with me. What's your business here?


Mama, it's Hillard. Oh, lord.

Them scabs done it, up the line a mile.

They was all colored this time. They bust his nose!

You got ice? In the back.

Go fetch me two chunks, about this big, and a rag.

You a doctor?

No, but I've seen my share of broken noses.

Now just point it up in the air, buddy, just like you're watching the clouds.

We'll get that bleeding stopped.

I got my licks in.

You say what? He said he got his licks in.

Seems to be all the men around here care about.

Wives and kids are starving, so long as they get their licks in.

It's just frustration, is all, when you can't take care of them you care about.

I know, it ain't their fault. Here you go.

This freezes up all them little veins inside.

It's just so they close up and they don't let any more blood out.

You a doctor? No.

I'm just a guy looking for a place to stay.

$5 a week, cash.

That includes dinner and clean sheets.

Hope I'm not making a mistake.

Name is Joe Kenehan.

Lay back your head.

Oh, mostly I worked for the railroads, laying track.

Kansas, Missouri...

I went out west for a bit, worked in a lumber camp.

A little of whatever pays an honest dollar.

I'm a coal miner. I east till we come out I was.

Had me over in section 3. I was a trapper boy.

Ain't you a little young? I'm almost 15.

There's some in there younger than me.

With the strike now, I mostly work on running this place.

I help a little, don't 17?

It's going to be a long one.

That superintendent at stone mountain, he said he'd go broke before he'd let one union sonofabitch so much as step into his coal mines.

Danny. Oh, sorry, ma'am.

But that's what he said.

Daniel's a preacher. Is that so?

You ought to hear him testify.

What church you with?

Round here there's the missionary folks. They's the hardshell baptists.

Then there's the free will folks, which is your softshell baptists.

Right now I preach for both.

Oh, I'll get it.

Daniel's going to preach tonight over at the missionary.

I never was religious myself.

It's Sephus, mama.

Hello, Elma.

Mrs. Knightes. Hello, Sephus.

I come to have a word with your new boarder...

If he don't mind.

Excuse me.

Claims he's the fella the union sent us.

Can you prove it?

Don't take nothing to have a card printed up.

You'll just have to trust me.

Who wrote the Iron heel?

Jack London.

Where's Joe Hill buried at?

All over the world. They scattered his ashes.

Which eye is big Bill Heywood missing?

His right one. How did frank little die?

Butte, Montana. They hung him from a railroad trestle.

Well, you know your stuff.

I was with the wobblies. Me too, back when it meant something.

One big union. Not around here, buddy.

C.E. Lively.

This is my restaurant.

The fellas are waiting.

They don't give a damn whether we live or die, just so long as they get their coal out of the ground.

They had us pulling pillars and the roof was working, you know, like it does before it's going to fall down.

If I say, "I ain't dying in here" and walk away, they'll put me down in some damn puddle in a two-foot seam and no air to breathe.

A man can't mine coal that way.

They're just pushing us further than we can go.

The checkweighman, he'll take 50 pounds off your load for slate when there ain't a pebble in it.

"It's down in the bottom," he'll say, where there ain't no looking for it.

Then they raise the prices at the company store the same goddamn week that they lower the tonnage rate.

And they still ain't rock-dusted that damn hole.

Who am I talking about?

Jesus. I can't hear you.

Jesus! I still can't hear you.

Jesus! Jesus Christ, our lord.

Do you know his name? Have you seen his glory?

Have you felt the warming comfort of his precious love?

Praise Jesus! Praise Jesus!

Praise His holy name! Praise His blessed spirit!

Praise His everlasting love!

Jesus Christ, our lord.

Listen to me now, listen to me.

The prince of darkness...

Is upon the land.

Amen. Now, in the Bible...

His name is Beelzebub, Lord of the flies.

Right now on earth today...

His name is Bolshevist, socialist, communist, union man!

Lord of untruth, sower of evil seed, enemy of all that is good and pure, and this creature...

Walks among us.

What are we going to do about it?

First thing we got to have is all of these niggers and all these dagos that come in here to take our jobs thrown out of the mines.

Mines! Hell! They got them in our houses, they're sitting at our tables right now, and they're sleeping in our beds while we're out living under a piece of canvas at the back of the holler.

I been a union man my whole life.

I know the story with these coal operators and their gun thugs.

The only thing they understand is the bad end of a bullet.

If we show them we'd just as soon blow up their damn mines as see them worked by a bunch of scabs, then they're going to listen.

Someone's coming. It's Ellix. He got someone.

Where'd you find him?

He come right up on the steps.

They told me that C.E. Lively's is where the union men meet.


I got business with the union.

That so?

What's your name, son?

They calls me few clothes.

I didn't come here looking for no trouble.

A man's got to eat.

So why don't you go eat, back where you come from?

They told me that there was jobs here.

Go home, nigger. God damn, scab.

You watch your mouth, peckerwood.

I been called nigger, and I can't help that's the way white folks is, but I ain't never been called no scab!

And I ain't fixing to start up now.

I'll go ton for ton loading coal with any man here.

And when I do, I expect the same dollar for the same work.

You get out of this holler alive, son, you'll be doing good for yourself.

Union men, my ass.

You want to be treated like men?

You want to be treated fair?

Well, you ain't men to that coal company.

You're equipment, like a shovel, a gondola car, or a hunk of wood brace.

They'll use you till you wear out or you break down, or you're buried under a slate fall, and then they'll get a new one.

And they don't care what color it is or where it comes from.

It doesn't matter how much coal you can load or how long your family has lived on this land.

If you stand alone, you're just so much shit to those people.

You think this man is your enemy?


This is a worker.

Any union keeps this man out ain't a union, it's a goddamn club.

Now they got you fighting white against colored, native against foreign, holler against holler, when you know there ain't but two sides to this world, them that work and them that don't.

You work, they don't.

That's all you got to know about the enemy.

You say you got guns.

Well, I know that you all are brave men, and I know you could shoot it out with the company if you had to.

But the coal company don't want this union, the state government don't want it, the federal government don't want it.

And they're all of them just waiting for an excuse to come down and crush us to nothing.

Fellas, we're in a hole full of coal gas here.

The tiniest spark at the wrong time is going to be the end of us.

So we got to pick away at this situation slow and careful.

We got to organize and build support.

We got to work together.


Till they can't get their coal out of the ground without us

'cause we're a union!

"Cause we're the workers, damn it! And we take care of each other.

How can we shut the mines down if we don't dynamite them?

The men walk out.

All of them!

Fat chance.

And every man that walks out on his own steam, we take into the union.

All the dagos and all the colored?

That's what a union is, fellas.

You better get used to it.

So this fella owns a vineyard, goes out first thing one morning, and he hires some workers.

Says he'll give them a dollar for the day, which was decent wages in biblical times.

Then he's at the marketplace and he sees some other fellas, and he hires them.

And some more at noon and 2:00 and 5:00, and every time it's the same deal, a dollar for the day.

He's hiring all day long, right up till one hour before quitting time.

Look, we're real sorry to barge in on you like this, but it's come to a point where we got to talk to you.

Now, I know you people got it hard coming to a new country.

You don't know the rules.

Don't know how things work.

They don't know shit about mining coal, that's for sure.

They been dying like flies in that number 3 hole.

What's he saying?

But how it is, you don't have a whole lot of choice in this thing.

You know what a union is?


Well, what the situation is, we need everybody...

We join the union, they shoot us.

We no join the union, you shoot us.

Well, that's one way of looking at it.

What does he want? He wants us to join the union.

The union! The union again!


That dago's driving me crazy.

Now what's he playing? Shh.

Now who's that?

Peckerwood's gone past.

Union man be over in a few minutes.

What we talking to him for?

You want to walk back to Alabama?

Sun goes down, he sends for his foreman, he says to go pay off the workers, starting with the ones he picked up just an hour ago, and to pay every one of them the same dollar a day.

Of course, the fellas that went out first is roped off about this.

So they get to agitating, complaining so loud that the owner come up and he says, "look it, we dealt for a dollar, and that's what you get.

And what I pay anybody else is none of your lookout, so there."

Now, that's all the gospel story says, except for the moral Jesus drew out of it.

And so Jesus says, "thus it will be in the kingdom of heaven...

The first will be last, and the last will be first."

Now, it's clear from this parable that Jesus hadn't heard nothing about the union.

If he was walking the earth today and seen the situation we got with these coal operators, he'd have changed his tune.

"A man deserveth an hourly wage," he'd say, “for though the pit be gassy and the face full of slate, a man still toileth by the sweat of his brow and wants a better deal here on earth, no matter what I got in store for him in the hereafter."

Praise Jesus. Praise Jesus.


Out kind of late, aren't you?

I met some people, and we got to talking.



Who are you?

Name is sid Hatfield.

I'm chief of police around here.

It ain't against the law to talk, is it?


I take care of my people.

You bring them trouble, you're a dead man.

Sleep tight, Kenehan.


Well, look at this, Griggsy.

They got up a little reception committee for us.

What is your name, honey?

Bridey Mae Tolliver.

You like to watch the trains come and go, Bridey Mae?

Yeah. Yeah?

And the people what come into town. Ah.

There been a lot of new people coming here lately?

A few.

Fella named Joe Kenehan show up?


Are you married, Bridey Mae?

I was.

He got killed in the mine.

Oh, that's too bad.

Did you hear that, griggsy? He got killed in the mine.

It's a shame.

Was your husband a union man while he was living?

No. He said it wouldn't never take hold down here.

He sounds like a smart fella.

I think that you are real pretty. You know that, Bridey Mae?

Thank you.

Don't you think she's pretty, Griggsy?

You are the best-looking mountain trash I've seen in a long while.

We'll see you around.

Let's roll, Griggsy.

The sooner we get out of this shithole, the better.

I was putting up blackberries when Trammell Blankenship come shouting up the holler that the number 5 had blown.

I remember I took the pot off the stove top and washed up my hands before I went down.

It took two days to dig through.

Then when they brung them up, you couldn't tell which was which.

They found blood on the walls from fellas trying to claw their way out.

Mrs. Elkins, Mrs. Mounts, Bridey Mae, me...

We all lost our men in that fire.

Danny was seven then.

Now he's back in that same hole.

How'd it start?

Coal dust gets hanging in the air down there, and there's a spark.

They could spray the walls down, but the company says that'd cost too much.

Hey, was, uh... Was sid Hatfield ever a miner?

Not for long. He don't like to be closed in, sid.

He was always real friendly, smiling, sid.

Then the war come, and Cabell Testerman got to be the mayor.

He made Sid chief of police, and then the girl that Cabell marr...


I don't want you using Danny on no crazy union business.

A man has to stand up for what he believes in.

Danny ain't no man.

Look here, mister, you're going to be moving on.

Win or lose, you'll walk on out of this holler. We got to stay here.

I intend to leave a union when I go.

My husband used to talk union.

I seen where it got him.

Mama! People out front, mama.

Sorry, mister, we're full up. Not anymore you're not, Sonny.

Stone mountain sent us down here. We're still full up.

Can I help you gentleman?

They're trying to push their way in here. I said it wasn't no use.

I don't see where you got any say.

My mama says you can't stay here, then you can't, that's all.

Danny! Keep out of this.

Look, I only got one room left.

Then somebody's going to have to move, don't they?

Let me see your register.

You ain't seeing nothing.

Lady, we're here as guests of the stone mountain coal company.

They own this house.

Good morning.

You fellas moving in?

Yeah. No.

Well, you won't find a better night's sleep anywheres in town.

It's a shame I got to move over to the hotel.

It's business, you know.

So you mind if I settle my bill, ma'am?

Danny, you sign these two gentleman in.

Don't think the company isn't going to hear about this.

Boy, sometimes you got to bend so as you don't break.

Food's awful at the hotel.

Mattresses got lumps, probably cooties too.

I'll be all right.

I'll get my things.

Thank you.

Now, if you want to stay alive down here, you got to listen up.

Get ahold of something solid, and give the top a little poke.

Now, if you get a nice ringing sound, you're all set.

Got a nice solid top over your head.

You get a kind of hollow sound, like a drum, that slate's sagging a bit, and you got to put in another post.

You dig coals a long time, eh?

I've been going underground since I was ten. You?

We make shoe. Everybody in same factory in Milano, make shoe.


You make shoes?


Soon as they get their union, they'll send us packing.

It could be.

But you try and head out of here now, you be owing all that money like they say, company shoot you for a thief.

We just some slaves up here. They own our black asses.


Hey, few, I got a question for you.


Now, suppose they let us in this union like they say.

We going to have to work with them Italian people?

The bosses have the guns.

The miners have guns, too. Maybe, maybe not.

I just don't want my family to starve.

The miners have families, too.

Let's vote.

Renato? Yes.

Clemente? No.

Gianni? Hmm.

Come on, babies.

Come on and get it now. Come on. Come on.

Come on, there.

Come on. Come on.

Oh, boy. All right.

Taking a walk? Hi I'm going up to the coal camp.

I'll meet those new fellas when they come off their shift.

You're doing union business, ain't you?

How you like Mrs. Radnor's?

Well, there wasn't room.

I'm at the hotel now.

Isn't she a sourpuss though?

Mr. Kenehan! They's evicting in town, Mr. Kenehan.

It's Baldwins. It's them Baldwin thugs.

This is town property.

Who are you?

I'm the Mayor.

Well, pleased to meet you.

My name is Bill Hickey. This is Tom Griggs.

We're carrying out an eviction for stone mountain.

You can do what you want up at the coal camp, but this is town property.

Stone mountain holds the deeds on these houses, Cabell.

You need a writ for eviction.

You the law around here?

Well, good. Then you can help us.

Now, these people are trespassing on company property.

They all signed a contract that they wouldn't join any union.

You, uh, you Baldwin-Felts agency?

That's right.

Presently employed by the stone mountain coal company.

This is from Mr. Turley here...

And this is from our boss, Mr. Thomas Felts.

I've met Mr. Felts.

Well, good, we won't have any problem.

I wouldn't pee on him if his heart was on fire.

Neither of these will do for a writ.

You'll have to see a judge in Charleston.

What if we ain't got time to go to Charleston?

Then you'd better find some.

Now, I can't do nothing about what you pull outside town limits, but you bother these people under my jurisdiction, I'll put you under arrest.


You and whose army?

All you men own a gun, go home and get it.

You're deputies as of now.

The rest of you people stick close. We'll need withesses.

I'm giving you ten minutes to get those people's belongings back in the house.

If the rest of the boys was here, you wouldn't be so cocky.

If the rest of the boys was here, I'd give you five minutes.

Now, move it.

You can't win, you know.

This is going to happen with you, without you.

You can't stop it.

All right, boys, let's put it back in.

This ain't our day.

Attaboy, Sid!

You all right, honey?

Some of them turning yellow.

I never seen a lawman buck a company gun before.

He's mostly a real nice feller, sid.

I want to be mayor of a town, not mayor of a cemetery.

Contention makes him nervous though.

We got a motion on the floor here.

And this is coal miners only.

All them in favor of keeping them scabs out of the mines tomorrow morning using whatever force it looks like is necessary...

Raise your hands.

It's settled then.

Pass them peas, boy.

Pass the peas, Danny.

The boy deaf or dumb or what?

Daniel ain't dumb. Daniel's a preacher.

That right, boy? You a preacher?

Who do you preach to, boy?


Daniel preached at the meeting last night.

It was a good number of souls there.

You a soul saver, boy?

You want to have a go at me and griggsy. We ought to be a real challenge.

He's a squirrel preacher, is what.

Stands up on a stump out in the woods and testifies to the holy rodent.

Danny! You in a hurry to meet your maker, boy?

Ain't no guns allowed at table. Sit down, Danny.

You do what your pretty mama says, preacher.

You put that away now, mister.

Pack it away, Griggsy.

Look, we're going to be here a while, little lady.

You can have it the easy way or the hard way.

Now, how about them peas?

Boy's getting on my nerves.

Oh, lord!

They told me they would talk to the fellas.

I saw their faces last night, Joe. They wasn't buying it.

We're playing right into the company's plans.

The men voted, Joe. Now, what more do you want?


I seen the lights on the hill.

They're sneaking them in for a night shift.

Let's go, fellas.

Hillard told me you was sent from the union.


I bet you seen hundreds of strikes.


I got thrown clear out of the missionary the other night, talking the union from the pulpit.

Is we getting close?

Up there.

Here they come!

They're down the hill! Over here!

When our fellas put their lanterns out, you just hit the dirt.

I think this belongs to you.

Yeah. I'm with him.

Hooray for the dagos!

All of you union men, let's welcome our new brothers.

From now on...

Stone mountain don't move one piece of coal unless it's a union man that moves it.

Let's get out of here.

Glad you could join us.

In them days, the coal company owned your camp houses, they owned your Lana, they owned most of the fown and the people who run it.

If you wasn't for the company, there wasn't too many places you could go that was still on the map.

The union didn't have too much they could give to the people back then.

"All we got in common is our misery," Joe Kenehan used fo say, "and the least we can do is share it”

Coming through!

Come on.

What are you staring at?

She got the evil eye, that one.

Oh, mama.

Don't you let me catch you peeking over there.

She got the evil eye if I ever seen it.

Well, what do we got here?

We brung you some food. Mama stole it from the company.

Quiet, Danny.

Well, we can use everything you got.

You people are crazy. You ain't never going to win this thing.

Then what are you helping us for?

I got work to do.

We appreciate your help.

I ain't never seen everybody all together like this.

Company don't stand a chance.


What's the pitch?

Well, I was just saying to the mayor here how we're all trying to do our jobs, you and me and him.

And nobody is paying us enough to be dodging no bullets for it.

Um, now, Mr. Feltss has authorized me to make it more attractive for you gentlemen to cooperate.

Town ain't for sale, mister.

What about you?

Now, I figure that little show you were putting on out there the other day was just for bargaining power.

Or are you going to be stupid too?

Either of you shit hogs lift a finger in town limits, I'll put you away.

Damn hillbillies always got to do it the hard way.

You boys are going up against some... Pretty big people.

Don't push your luck.

How's Jessie these days?

Oh, she's okay, Sid.

You think they're bluffing?


Neither am I.

Now, the way the relief fund works is kind of tricky...

'Cause of all the different situations we got going around the country.

I mean, we're stretched real thin.

There's a lot of strategy to who gets what and when.

I report to the strike committee, and they evaluate the progress we're making here and the political situation, and then they release the strike fund to us.

You mean they'd cut us off?

No, the amount that we get is based on... What if they think we're going to lose?

Look, the strike committee considers what's best for the union as a whole, but that doesn't mean... Politics, boys.

Going to play union, you got to play politics.

I'm sure Joe don't like that no more than you do.

Come. Come closer.

I don't like it one damn bit. Me neither.

I didn't get into this thing so I'd have one more boss to tell me what to do.

The union isn't your boss, it's you.

Then why we got to wait for some hunkies up in Pittsburgh to give us the word to move?

'Cause it's a democracy.

It's like the United States. A democracy.

That's a joke.


Get down, they're shooting!

Go away!

Stay put, they'll cut you down. The hell with that!

Keep your head down, son.

They're going to make a night of it.

It's ruined.

Sarah, come over here with that.

You got a little piece of bullet left in there.

Company doctor said he wouldn't come out, but there's a fella in pikeville on the Kentucky side that'll treat union men on the sly.

He'll be here by noon.

Will he treat colored?

If he treats union, he'll treat colored.

More water, Danny. Yes, ma'am.

You just hold this up there against that real gentle.

Don't press hard. Hey, elma...

You seen any of the men?

Only them that's wounded.

How's she doing? Not bad.

At least nobody got killed.

No thanks to you.

Take it easy, buddy.

Morning, Joe.

Hey, Bridey. You seen any of the fellas?

Not a one.

He's real nice-looking.

He likes me, I can tell.


I just know men, that's all.

That'd make a cat laugh.

If you want to make that kind of slop... Let me go, you old witch!

Your food is for pigs!

No, even pigs wouldn't eat it. This is the United States.

We do things different.

Listen to me.

You can learn something here. Your food is poison.

How do they eat that swill without dying?

Ladies, what's the problem? This idiot won't let me make polenta!

I thought she'd make corn bread with it. You should see the slop she made.

She can poison her own people, but half of this is mine.

Mrs. elkins, now, these people got their own way of doing things.

Well, that is a waste of good cornmeal if you ask me.

She makes up this porridgely kind of mess. I wouldn't feed it to the pigs.


The soldiers.

They're coming back to kill us.

Where's all the men gone to?

That changes the whole picture.

What I'm saying is, unions is fine for some things, but for other things, a man's got to go on his own.

Of course, that's up to you.


You make Sindacato, you do what the Sindacato say.

I listen to Joe.

Few clothes?

We going to be shooting white folks, right?

That's the idea.

People hear about black folks shooting white folks, no matter what it's for, there's going to be hell to pay.

You got a point.

Well, then...

If you gentlemen will excuse us.

Let's go.

You people have been put out of stone mountain mine housing...

And some of you have seen fit to take along certain items of food, furniture, and clothing that don't belong to you but belong to the company.

As of the day of the strike, your scrip ceased to be legal tender, meaning that any item of food, clothing, and furniture not paid for in cash money...

Must be turned over to me and my deputies.

I suggest that you all cooperate.

See, my boys...

They didn't get much sleep last night, so they're kind of jumpy.

Besides, we got the law on our side.

You ain't no law! You got to slip around the real law.

You just got guns is all.

You just thugs...

Yeah, maybe you're right, Sonny. We just got guns.

You still got to hand in them goods.

Yellow scab-herder...

Hillard, you get up from there.

Hey, you got a list of goods?

Don't need one.

How you gonna know what belongs to the company and what don't?

He's the red, Hickey.

He's the agitator.

Everybody, see I don't got a gun on me?

What good do you think that's going to do you, red?

You shoot me, folks'll know it was murder.

Well, that's some cold comfort.

Now, you listen to me, red.

We was hunting.

You folks are making an awful lot of commotion.

You scared all the game away.

This your machine?

Heard it last night too.

It's an offense to the ear.

Hold it, pops, you're talking to the law here.

He ask you anything?

Where'd you get that thing, pal? The Spanish war?


War between the states.

You all get in this machine and get back into town where you belong.

Ain't but one law out here, and that's the law of nature.

Let's get the hell out of here.

Folks, try and keep the noise down, you'll do fine.

Help yourself to the bird and the rabbit...

But you see any hogs, they's probably ours.

We'd appreciate it if you'd leave them be.

Good day to you.

Are you okay, Joe?

Yeah, I'd be all right if it weren't for my ribs.


Who were those people?

Rossums, mostly, and a shuttleworth.

They miners? You never find them folks near a hole.

They had most of their land stole by the company.

They's hill people. Foothill people, really.

Your genuine hill people.

They can be dangerous.

Now, the thing you got to remember, son, is your fuse burns one foot per minute.

Make it too long, they might see it.

Make it too short, we'll all be meeting you on the other side.

Damn it.

Air shaft number 4.

Go out the back way.

We seem kind of lonely here tonight.

Where's all our other friends tonight, Miss Elma?

They get tired of the Chuck or what?

I think that old biddy went on strike, laid down her teeth in protest.

They're just particular about who they eat with.

What about you, Miss Elma?

Are you particular?

If stone mountain didn't hold the lease here...

If stone mountain didn't hold the lease, you'd be peddling poontang down in cinder bottom, so just shut your mouth about it.

Where's the little preacher tonight?

Bitch got no table manners.


You know where Danny is?

No. I don't know where anybody is.

And nobody wants to tell me either. Mmm.

You okay?

Yeah, I'm just tired, is all.

I been working all day. This place...

I been working...

The day they burned my husband, I started, and I been working, and it...

It don't never stop.

I get so tired, and... there ain't nobody.

Look, it's hard.

It's hard being on your own.

You don't know nothing about it.

We're in business, buddy. Let's get the boys.

What is it? Sounds like dynamite up at the mine.

Might be that number 5 shaft.

Might be some shooting.



You seen my boy? Anybody seen my boy, Hillard?

That'll be the Baldwins.


Anybody seen my Hillard?

It's Baldwins up the hill!

Shoot low, boys! Cut them down.

They're up behind us!

Get him!

You fellas get on out of here. I'll hold them back.

Reece! Reece, get up!

Sephus, come on!

Okay, boys, spread out. He's here somewhere.

I got him! He's over here! Hold on, hold on, boys. It's me.

Hold your fire, boys. It's c.E.

You all right?

You'd better get back to camp.


Hold his leg.

Hold it. Hold.

I'm just going to pull this back from your leg, boy.

Now, give me back that knife, Hillard.

Hey, what happened?

We was sold. Them Baldwins come up from behind.

Known right where we was laying out.

They know'd when the men was out of camp today too.

How's she feeling, buddy?

You made it.

I thought we'd lost you back there. I got off a couple of rounds, buried myself in the leaves.

I seen Reece Hadley go down though. Sephus get back?

I don't think so.

You see what happens, you pick up a gun?

All I see is them niggers and dagos weren't there tonight, and we was sold, and somebody going to pay.

Something bad's happening out there.

Those guns. Hunting party, that's all.

Now, where was I?

"Time to put all shyness..."

Time to put all shyness aside...

And admit to our heartfelt attraction.

I'm not sure how you spell "attraction."

How about...

"Heartfelt desires"?

Are you sure you want to do this?

Heartfelt desires, dearest... Joseph.

Get out of here! Shoo!

Look at that. Just covered with Gore. Dogs didn't do all that.

Are you drawing breath, son?

Baldwins. We was sold...

What's your name?


Sephus purcell.

Kin to nimrod purcell?

That's daddy's uncle.

Say some Baldwin agents took you?

From behind.

None of them purcells ever was too bright.

Grab his ankles, missus, and mind your dress.

He's bleeding like a stuck pig.

I found him, boys. He's here.

It's Reece.

Got yourself a martyr.

I tried to stop this.

See any sign of Sephus?

We'll maybe smell him before we see him.

They found somebody?

Stay right here, honey. Don't want to look at that mess.

But I got something for Mr. Kenehan.

I don't think he's in no mood to be bothered right now.

I'll see he gets it.

Who is it?

Oh, just some poor miner whose troubles is finally over.

Don't look, honey.

I talked to ellix.

He says your phonograph machine's going to be fixed in a couple days now.

It's awful nice of you to do, Everett.

Well, we got to take care of our favorite lady now, don't we?

You been so generous thinking about me when that Mr. Kenehan got you all so busy with the union.

That Mr. Kenehan is what I come to talk to you about.

I got a suspicion he might not be what he says he is.

What do you mean?

Bridey, did you send Kenehan some sort of letter?

What do you want?


He wouldn't.

There's a whole crowd of fellas standing around him.

I seen Kenehan laughing, waving that letter.

So I come over to see what's so funny.

A lot of fellas?

You mind if I have another drink, honey?

It ain't pretty what I got to say.

He said some things, Bridey...

"She been following me around ever since I got here...

Trailing after me like a dog in heat, sniffing around my legs like a brood bitch.

She don't wear no drawers”, he says, "so she can be ready for whatever stumbles down the pathway."

He didn't!

He didn't.

He said you done it with one of the coloreds.

Lying bastard.

Bridey, I think it might be worse than that.

I think he might be a spy in with the coal operators.

But he's got the fellas so turned around with all his talk...

I need for you to help me, bridey...

And sometimes you got to tell a little bit of a lie just to get the truth across.

We fight them with guns, we lose.

That's the whole damn story.

I'm not going to bullshit you fellas and tell you there won't ever come a time when the people that own this state send the word down to have us all murdered.

But if we don't stand together now as workers...

We got no hope at all.

Help me up.

You going somewhere?

This is miners' business, and you ain't no miner.

You two come along.

So, um...

Last night he comes up here, and, uh...

He's all drunk and everything, and I says how I didn't want to have nothing to do with him, and...

And I would call some of you fellas for help, and he says that all of you was...

Taken care of.

Taken care of, huh?

When I seen that there wasn't no help, I...

He, uh, kind of...

Forced me, he... he forced me.

C.e. Mmm?

That's okay. You better hear this firsthand.

Go ahead, honey. What happened then?

And afterwards he thrown money on the bed, like I were some kind of a whore.

You done just fine, honey.

Now, why don't you go sit outside for a minute while we figure out what we're going to do about this?

So he don't have no sense with women. So what?

You know how Bridey builds things up.

Take a look at this that our friend left laying on the floor last night.

Baldwin-Felts agency.

What it say?

It's a death warrant, is what, for Mr. Joseph Kenehan.

So it's "good-bye, Mr. Kenehan" tonight.

The miners?

How'd you manage that?

That tramp that goes to meet the passenger train?

Yeah? Seems she's got the eye for Kenehan.

So he put it in her head that Kenehan's been bad-mouthing her all around town.

He's got her down there right now crying to the miners, and he's got these papers from Bluefield.

I didn't leave my Colt like this.

You spying little bastard!

What'd you hear, huh?

What did you hear? Nothing.

Horseshit! Hit him, bill!

See this medal?

You know how I won this, preacher boy, huh?

I was sitting alone in a ditch in France, and this kraut jumps in right next to me.

And I took my bayonet, and I stuck him right in the face.

And then another jumps in, and I stick him too.

And another and another and another.

They just kept coming, one at a time, all night long.

And in a little bit, I got to worried that they weren't all dead, so I stuck them all again a couple times just to make sure.

And in the morning...

They said that I was a war hero.

Well, I'm going to stay close to you tonight, preacher boy.

And you let one wrong word fly, and I'm going to put one in your skull, and I'll do the same for your pretty mama.

You know I ain't lying, don't you, boy?

Yes, sir.

Man who draws the short straw gets to do the job, and word don't travel beyond this room about who it is.

The rest of us will want a good alibi.

I figure in that prayer meeting tonight, right under the preacher's nose.

Welcome to the union, son.

What's the story?

Ludie heard that the Baldwins was coming after you tonight, and I'm supposed to stick by you.

You got the shit detail again, huh?

You all right, Danny?

You got your sermon memorized?

I bet he don't know any more scripture than I do.

And that ain't a whole hell of a lot, is it, Griggsy?

You know any?

I never got no further than, "in the beginning was the word."

Guess we both doomed to the hot place.

The lord relies on little shits like this one to spread his word, I don't want no truck with heaven.

And as for hell, well, we been to West Virginia!

there is power, power &

Wonder-working power

' in the blood nthe blood

& of the lamb j > of the lamb & there is power, power wonder-working power & in the precious blood of the lamb & there is power, power wonder-working power & in the blood of the lamb there is power, power wonder-working power & in the precious blood of the lamb & there is power, power wonder-working power & in the blood of the lamb there is power, power wonder-working power & in the precious blood of the lamb &

What in God's name you doing, son?

I just got your leaks all stopped up, and here you're trying to bust them open again.

I got to get down there. They got to know.

You ain't going nowhere, unless it's in a pine box.

Where's your sense?

I got to...

Wish those fellas would get here.


If they're coming, I wish they'd hurry up.

I don't want any more shooting in the woods.


You ever use one of those?

10th cavalry in Cuba back in '98.

San Juan hill.

Pretty rough down there?

Did what I had to.

It true you're a red?

Yeah, I suppose it is.

Then how come you don't carry a gun?

Well, we carry little round bombs.

Don't you read the papers?

I want to tell you tonight about the blackness in the heart of man.

Going to warn you about the many and devious ways in which Satan will hide from you the truth of who your real friends are.

I'll do it with a story from the patriarchs.

Now, we all know about Joseph and how out of all Jacob's 12 children, he was the smartest and the smoothest, and how his brothers got so jealous, they pulled off his coat of many colors and whooped on him and left him out to be sold into slavery.

But Joseph was not your ordinary fella, even for biblical times.

He had a special way with him, a way of looking at the grand scheme of things.

So when this fella Potiphar bought him for a slave, Joseph just smiled and vowed he was going to be a good one, making the best of a bad situation.

He put his heart to his work and was honest and friendly in his dealings, and before you knew it, he was just about running Potiphar's households and fields and all his businesses for him.

The only trouble was Potiphar's wife.

Now, she was what you might call a loose woman.

When I was in leavenworth, there was a bunch of mennonites...

In because they wouldn't fight in the war.

It's against their religion.

It's also against their religion to shave their beards or wear buttons on their clothes, and they was being forced to do both by the prison guards.

So, they refused to work...

And they went on a strike, right there in hell's half acre.

They was handcuffed to the bars of a cell house, eight hours a day for two full weeks.

They were put with their arms up like this...

So's they had to stand on their toes or those cuffs would cut into their wrists.

Can't nobody stay on their toes eight hours.

So, pretty soon their fingers would start to swell up.

They'd turn blue, and then they'd crack open.

Blood would run down their arms...

Eight hours a day, day after day.

And still they wouldn't work.

Still they tore the buttons off their uniforms every time they were sewed back on.

They tore them with their teeth because their hands wouldn't close no more.

So now I don't claim a thing for myself.

But them fellas, they never lifted a gun in their lives...

And you couldn't find any braver in my book.

Wish them fellas would get here.

Also in Potiphar's employ at this time were a couple of spies from one of his enemies.

Fellas that wanted to bring him down in the world and get their hands on his fields and houses.

They seen the want and lust in Mrs. Potiphar, and seen it would be good for their purposes to get shed of young Joseph.

So they come to Potiphar's wife.

She calls Joseph in, and she asks him one more time, "Joseph, will you lie with me?"

And he says, "no, ma'am, I won't."

She sets up a ruckus and grabs hold of his garment he's wearing and rends it in two before he can get clear.

Potiphar runs in then with his guards, and she's bawling her eyes out and shaking like a leaf.

"Your servant, Joseph," she says, "he come in here and tried to make me lie with him.

Only when I called out, he fled, leaving this here garment as evidence.

And not only that," she says, "he been spying and plotting against you with your enemies.

He means to take over here and have you killed."

Potiphar had no reason to misbelieve his wife.

Joseph was a slave and a foreigner.

So he gathered up his servants and household workers, and they went and slew Joseph dead.

Cut him from gut to gizzard and left him bleeding in the street.

And lo, they never learned of Mrs. potiphar's lies and went to their maker, unrepentant, with innocent blood on their hands.

Draw your own conclusions.

I what a friend we have in Jesus j&

& all our sins and griefs to bear & j; What a privilege to carry &

Getting awful late. Shh.

You hear something?

No. You? Yeah, I think I did.

Maybe it's the fellas.

I think we best go out there and have a look.

Few. Few clothes. Few.

Who's that?

It's... Hillard.

Meeting's been called off.

Well, we better get back to camp, huh?

Wait a minute.

Well, at least we didn't waste a trip.

C.E.! C.E. Lively!

Do something! No way. It won't spread.

Is C.E. Inside? No such luck.

Let's find that son of a bitch.

Mind them windows! They're going to blow!

How come they waste more food in one day than a poor worker's family has on their table in a week?

Now, let me ask you, whose sweat was it that went into building those mansions?

Once they seen how they'd almost done an innocent man, it was like Joe couldn't say no wrong.

It's the workers, that's who.

We moved out into Mingo county then, spreading the word about the union, spreading like wildfire over fo red jacket fo Ragland and Delbarton, all up and down the tug fork river, bringing the union out to all the folks that needed help, putting the spirit info them and trying to shut down the whole southwest field.

They been helping themselves to our land and our labor for too damn long.

Joe Kenehan said how there was a new day coming, and sometimes I could just about see it.

But it were a dangerous living for a union man, and you didn't dare turn your back.

It was hard times, and it was hungry times too.

The union relief was spread thin, and the hope of a new day can feed your soul, but leave your belly rumbling.


They crowd us on a boat like animals.

Then they shoot at us.

And for what?

To starve just like in Milan.

Where have you been?

Who gave you that?


Since there's just me and Hillard, and you got all these little ones...


You know what to do with this?

Hillard brung it in.


It's for you.

You're giving it to us?

I ain't going to watch no babies go hungry.

Now, here, you go on. You take it.

Here's some Navy beans...

And these here is ramps.

Now, you can cook with these.

They'll put a taste in your stew.



Would you like to sit with us?

Well, I...

Figure we's all in this together.

You sure got some pretty babies.

Who's your favorite pitcher? Hod Eller. He's from Logan county.

You get to play ball much?

When the mines were open.


Yeah? You ever kill anybody?

What brought that up?

Bet sid has.

He were in the war.

Well, all I saw was workers killing workers...

And there wasn't any point in it.

They thrown you in jail 'cause you wouldn't go?

Them two years kept me from killing some poor stiff that got pushed out on a battlefield by rich folks and politicians...

And they were worth it.

It's getting dark, Danny.

You'd better go get that coal.

See there, right there by the railroad trestle?

That's where cap Hatfield and his boy Joe Glenn killed three men.

Boy weren't but 13.

Used a Winchester.

You think it hurts much, a bullet?

Beats dying in a damn coal mine.

Boy weren't but 13 year old, Joe Glenn.

He must be in there. Coleman?

He always sleeps with the lights on.

We just got to be quiet is all.

Let's get the little bastards!

Over here.

Grab him. Cut him off!

Well, well, what we got here?

Smarts a little, don't it, boy?

Hillard, right?

Now, how about you give us the names of your ring leaders up in Logan?

Give us five names, boy, that's all. Five names and we'll let you go.

That's fair, isn't it?



Talk to us, boy.

Talk to us!

I'll rot in hell first.

Have it your way.

Mr. Lively.

Boy, I sentence you to death for the crime of stealing company property and being a dirty bolshevist union man.

You got ten seconds to talk.


Whew, what a smell. Boy dirtied his diapers.

We want names, son.

I can't, I sworn on a Bible.

Then we're going to have to get down to it, son.

Use the razor. Hold him, boys.

Just a little Nick, boy.


Get it off your chest, son.

Plyant mounts, Bill Mahan, Asa Radnor, J.T. Keadle...

Five. Give us five, boy.

And Harley Shilton.

Kill him. No!

Where do them fellas he named live?

Clay hill.

Where's that?

It's a cemetery.

Them are all fellas was killed in a gas fire, five, six year ago.

Nothing like a young boy dying...

To stir things up.

Baldwins coming into town tomorrow, Kenehan.

You fellas have any idea what's waiting for us?

You mean they didn't tell you?

I just seen a line in the papers...

"Opportunity for red-blooded American men.

Immediate openings, high pay, travel, chance for advancement.

Apply Baldwin-Felts and write your own ticket."

When the natives get restless someplace, they put that out.

Hook some more Cannon fodder.

Ever hear of the hatfields and the mccoys, son?

Yeah, of course I have.

This matewan is their stomping grounds.

They'll put a bullet in your brain as soon as look at you.

Sid, we got authorization to put these miners off company property here in town.

Not from me, you don't.

And we also got a warrant for your arrest, you give us any trouble.

This ain't worth shit, and you know it.

One way or another, we're going to carry out these evictions tomorrow morning.


They come to kill me.

Hillard was my friend.

When I first come down to the mines, it was Hillard shown me what to do.

He was a good coal miner, a good union man...

And he always took care of his mama.

I don't know how they could have done him like they did.

All he wanted to do was live decent, that's all.

Sometimes people say how god willed it, how everything is his plan.


I don't think he planned on Hillard laying here amongst all these elkinses.

Not this young in his life.

I think all god plans is we get born, and we got to take it from there.

So you rest in peace, Hillard.

You rest easy 'cause we're going to take up where you left off.


You going to tell us to turn the other cheek, Joe?

Shooting is what they want now.

And maybe it's what we want too.

You expect too much of people, Joe.

You're still after that one big union, but most of us...

We can't see past this holler. deliver us from the gathering storm unworthy though we are leave us living safe and warm & and sheltered in your arms & all in all, how graced are we & sinless never more fo be & deliver us from the gathering storm unworthy though we are deliver us from... &

I need to talk to the men.

It wouldn't be decent now.

I'll call a meeting in the morning...

First thing.

all in all, how graced are we & sinless never more fo be & deliver us from the gathering storm unworthy though we are

Pass the word to stay out from town tomorrow.

Something up?

Got a feeling.

You know how white folks is when they gets all excited.

How is she?

How would you be?

The company men came today.

Armed to the teeth.

God have mercy on us.

Nothing's going to bring Hillard back, you know.

Danny, I came here to help.

Sure you did.

First people come here to help us with some money.

Next we know, we got no land.

Then they say they're going to help us with a job and a place to live, and they stick us in some damn coal camp and let us dig out their mines.

Now you come here to help us bring in the new day.

Well, Hillard ain't going to see no new day.

We had about as much help as we can stand.

We got to take care of ourselves.

We got to take care of each other.

Joe. Joe. The men go to town.


No need for you to be in on this.

It's my town too. They're my people.

You all have no right to come to this here town with all these people and drawing guns and terrorizing them.

The writs you have are not valid for this town.

You can't get away with this. No!

No. Oh!


Jesus, don't shoot me!

I just wanted to talk.

I just wanted to talk.

I can't feel my legs.


There was a trial, but there wasn't nobody going fo pass guilty on Sid Hatfield in Mingo county.

Sid got married to Mayor Testerman's widow, and then the Baldwins, they caught him unarmed walking up the steps of the Mcdowell County courthouse.

They shot 15 bullets info him, right in broad daylight.

Then C.E. Lively stepped in and put one right through his skull.

Wasn't even a trial on that one.

That were the start of the great coalfield war, and us miners took the worst of it, like Joe said we would.

"It's just one big union the whole world over," Joe Kenehan used fo say.

And from the aay of the matewan massacre, that's what I preached.

That was my religion.

We buried Joe Kenehan with our own.

My mama, she thought he wouldn't never stay, but now he's with us for always, laying up here