Between Rock and a Hard Place (1981)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Workplace Issues  |   Run Time - 59 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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In this 59-minute documentary on three coal miners in West Virginia, each at a different stage in life and with a different attitude, director and writer Kenneth Fink has captured the human cost of the inhumanity of mining. Middle-aged miner Coy Lee Harris approaches his work and life with openness, a sense of humor, and devotion to his family. His objective is to make sure that his children get an education so that they will not have to be miners like himself. John Monroe Smith is a 61-year-old retiree who is suffering from black lung disease. There is no future for him now, and he justifiably feels that the mining industry uses men and when they wear out, discards them without a second thought. Hub Alger is the youngest of the three men and tried to escape the mines by going to the city to look for work. He just could not make it in the city and has been back in the mines for six years -- hoping all the while that he will get laid off. As these three men are followed around on a typical day for each of them, viewers experience the routine of daily existence, and they see inside the mines, glimpsing the difficult and often dangerous working conditions that are a part of the job. The three men are different from each other, but they all agree that mining is not what anyone with a choice would want to do.

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Keywords

career, danger, devotion [dedication], disease, education, escape, inhumanity, love, mine