Roger & Me (1989)

R | 94 mins | Documentary | 20 December 1989

Full page view
HISTORY

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer-writer-director Michael Moore was inspired to make the film after losing his job as an editor at the magazine, Mother Jones, and moving back to his hometown of Flint, MI. There, Moore witnessed the devastation caused by recent layoffs at local General Motors Corporation (GM) factories and decided to make a documentary film about the subject. Moore had no experience with film cameras and proceeded to study filmmaking technique by spending hours in local movie theaters. To raise money for the documentary, Moore arranged a weekly bingo game in Flint that raised $50,000 in three years. He also sold his house and its contents in two yard sales, and used his life savings and a “modest settlement” awarded him in a “wrongful discharge” lawsuit against Mother Jones, to partially finance the budget, which was cited as $160,000 in production notes. Other sources listed the budget as $200,000, as noted in an 11 Feb 1990 LAT story, and $260,000, as noted in a 1 Nov 1989 NYT brief. Other funding came from grants, including awards from the J. Roderick McArthur Foundation, Channel Four Television of Great Britain, and the Michigan Council for the Arts, while office space in Washington, D.C., which was used for editing, was donated by political activist Ralph Nader. After the film’s release, a 30 Apr 1990 DV item reported that Mackinac Centernter, which provided a $5,000 grant, had requested its money back, stating that it was “inappropriate for public money” to finance a commercial venture.
       Filming began 11 Feb 1987, on the fiftieth anniversary of ... More Less

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer-writer-director Michael Moore was inspired to make the film after losing his job as an editor at the magazine, Mother Jones, and moving back to his hometown of Flint, MI. There, Moore witnessed the devastation caused by recent layoffs at local General Motors Corporation (GM) factories and decided to make a documentary film about the subject. Moore had no experience with film cameras and proceeded to study filmmaking technique by spending hours in local movie theaters. To raise money for the documentary, Moore arranged a weekly bingo game in Flint that raised $50,000 in three years. He also sold his house and its contents in two yard sales, and used his life savings and a “modest settlement” awarded him in a “wrongful discharge” lawsuit against Mother Jones, to partially finance the budget, which was cited as $160,000 in production notes. Other sources listed the budget as $200,000, as noted in an 11 Feb 1990 LAT story, and $260,000, as noted in a 1 Nov 1989 NYT brief. Other funding came from grants, including awards from the J. Roderick McArthur Foundation, Channel Four Television of Great Britain, and the Michigan Council for the Arts, while office space in Washington, D.C., which was used for editing, was donated by political activist Ralph Nader. After the film’s release, a 30 Apr 1990 DV item reported that Mackinac Centernter, which provided a $5,000 grant, had requested its money back, stating that it was “inappropriate for public money” to finance a commercial venture.
       Filming began 11 Feb 1987, on the fiftieth anniversary of Flint’s 1936-37 Sit-Down Strike, which brought about the “first labor agreement between a union and the manufacturing industry in this country,” as stated in production notes. The last days of shooting took place two and a half years later, in Aug 1989.
       According to a 5 Oct 1989 HR item, the film was shown to prospective buyers at the Independent Feature Film Market (IFFM) in its original 16mm format. Due to its popularity at IFFM, it was moved to a larger theater to accommodate larger audiences. A 25 Oct 1989 LAHExam brief stated that Moore met with Michael Eisner, the chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, to discuss distribution rights, and Warner Bros. Pictures was also said to be interested. The following week, a 31 Oct 1989 HR article announced that Warner Bros. acquired worldwide distribution rights for $2.5 million, with an additional $2.5 million guaranteed for prints and advertising. Warner Bros. also agreed to provide $25,000 in housing costs to four families depicted in the film who had lost their homes or apartments as a result of losing their jobs at GM. Moore stated that 20,000 complimentary tickets to the film would be provided to unemployed people across the country, and thirty to forty percent of the profits he and fellow producers received would be allocated to a non-profit foundation supporting filmmakers working on projects similar to Roger & Me.
       The film was blown up to 35mm for theatrical release, as noted in a 27 Sep 1989 Var article, which also stated that DuArt Color Labs accepted deferred payments from Moore on all prints. According to a 21 Dec 1989 WSJ article, the premiere took place on 19 Dec 1989 in Flint, one day before the film’s Los Angeles, CA, and New York City openings. The release was set to expand to ninety-two additional theaters in fifty new markets on 13 Jan 1990, according to a 10 Jan 1990 DV brief. However, a 17 Jan 1990 LAT brief stated that the release widened to only forty cities, in a total of 103 theaters, four days prior.
       To promote the film, Moore and fellow crewmembers, deemed “Roger’s Rangers” by Warner Bros., were set to visit sixty cities and selected GM plants, with demands that GM chairman Roger Smith come to Flint. According to WSJ, an empty seat would be set aside at each screening of the film, reserved for Roger Smith. The article also noted Warner Bros.’ plans for a “national rollout to 965 theaters.”
       According to a 20 Dec 1989 LAT “Morning Report” column, Bob Eubanks, a Flint native and former host of The Newlywed Game (ABC/Syndicated, 7 Jan 1967—2013), issued a formal apology for an offensive joke he tells in the documentary which disparages both Jews and victims of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Eubanks claimed he did not know he was being filmed when he told the joke to the crew, and only learned of its inclusion in the movie when someone who had seen the documentary told him about it. Eubanks stated, “It was not my intention to harm, insult or in any way demean the Jewish people or persons with AIDS.” Another controversial scene depicted the clubbing to death, skinning, and gutting of a rabbit, and sparked protests from the American Humane Society, as noted in a 21 Dec 1989 HR brief. Moore responded that the sight of the rabbit’s death was no more brutal than the experiences of the 30,000 laid-off GM workers shown in the film.
       According to a 29 Jan 1990 HR article, GM instructed advertising agencies not to place advertisements for its automobiles during television programs promoting either Michael Moore or his film, including an episode of the talk show, Donahue (Syndicated, 1967—1996), filmed at Flint’s Whiting Auditorium and featuring Moore as a guest. After an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC, 2 Oct 1962—22 May 1992), Moore claimed that Bill Ott, GM’s director of media relations, had sent a packet of articles to guest host Jay Leno and the show’s producers, including stories from Film Comment, NYT, and Time magazine, that alleged Moore had misrepresented the chronology of events in Flint to correlate with the shuttering of GM factories. GM also claimed that Moore never requested an interview with Roger Smith, as was stated in the documentary, according to articles in the 21 Sep 1989 NYT and 27 Sep 1989 Var. In his defense, Moore insisted that “everything happened in the order in which it was depicted in the film” and stated at a press conference that a group of Flint natives were set to release information proving the accuracy of the documentary’s claims. In a 3 Feb 1992 LAT article written by Moore titled “‘Roger,’ ‘JFK’ and Me: The Official Story,” Moore discussed the controversy surrounding his film as well as Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991, see entry), and stated that only two daily newspapers ever traveled to Flint to double check the accuracy of Roger & Me. He claimed that both newspapers, California's Sacramento Bee and Florida's St. Petersburg Times, published lengthy articles confirming that his account of events in Flint was truthful and chronologically accurate, stating, “specifically, that 30,000 jobs were in fact eliminated by General Motors, that Ronald Reagan did visit Flint after the layoffs began, that the tourism projects meant to save Flint opened after various factories had closed and that all the shots of poverty in the film were recorded in Flint and nowhere else.”
       Critical reception was mixed. The 18 Sep 1989 DV review deemed the film “a cheeky and smart indictment of General Motors,” and the 20 Dec 1989 HR review called it a “quirky and powerful piece of vintage American humor, in the grand style of Mark Twain.” Meanwhile, in a scathing review in the 8 Jan 1990 New Yorker, Pauline Kael described the documentary as “shallow and facetious” and lamented that Moore only portrayed himself in a flattering light, while almost everyone else is depicted as a “fun-house case.” According to the 31 Oct 1989 HR, Roger & Me won awards at the New York, Toronto, and Vancouver Film Festivals. A 13 Dec 1989 LAT brief stated that an additional 11 Jan 1990 premiere hosted by the Detroit Institute of the Arts was canceled due to alleged "pressure from General Motors." However, the institute's director claimed the event was called off due to Moore's inability to attend.
       More controversy arose when the film did not receive a nomination for an Academy Award. According to a 15 Feb 1990 DV brief, documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates wrote an open letter to Hollywood’s community of filmmakers to convey her “shock” and “outrage” over the film’s exclusion from the Best Documentary category. On the night of the Academy Awards, Moore was honored across the street from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where the ceremony was filmed, by a group of roughly forty-five homeless people and homeless organizers who gave him “their first annual ‘People’s Award,’” according to a 28 Mar 1990 Var brief. Years later, a member of the AMPAS documentary committee responded to a recent LAT mention of the film as “duly overlooked for an Oscar nomination” in a letter to the editor on 12 Dec 1993. The committee member stressed that Roger & Me was not nominated “for several reasons,” including that some committee members believed the documentary was “dishonest and unfair to its subjects.”
       A 2 Jul 1993 HR brief reported that Roger & Me took in over $12 million in box-office receipts, making it the highest-grossing documentary to that time. Items in the 2 Aug 1990 DV and 3 Aug 1990 HR detailed the $1 million that Moore planned to donate to various funds, following through on his promise to give half his net profits from the film to charity. Planned donations included: $20,000 to revive the Flint Voice newspaper; $6,000 to the National Union of the Homeless; $5,000 to Earth First; $5,000 to the Jewish Women’s Coalition to End the Occupation in the territories in Israel; $7,000 in rent payments to the four families shown in the film who were evicted from their homes; $2,000 to Flint’s homeless shelters; and $5,000 to New Directions, a United Auto Workers democratic reform movement. Moore planned to donate a minimum of $100,000 every year, according to the 3 Aug 1990 HR.
       Larry Stecco, a lawyer shown in the film at an extravagant “Great Gatsby" party, commenting that Flint is a great place for ballet and hockey while two African-Americans pose as statues behind him, sued Moore, Moore’s production company, and Warner Bros., claiming he was unfairly portrayed. Stecco’s lawyer alleged his client was led to believe Moore was filming “a booster movie about Flint” on behalf of WUOM-TV, Flint’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) station. Jurors watched the documentary and “several outtakes” as evidence. Moore was found guilty of portraying Stecco in a false light, as announced in a 6 Jul 1993 HR news item, and was ordered to pay Stecco $6,250. Moore later stated the decision was a victory for the filmmakers, because the amount awarded was much less than the initial $50,000 out-of-court settlement offered by Warner Bros., and because the jury stated Moore “did not commit fraud in the way the movie was filmed and edited.” Two counts of the case, including one of slander, were thrown out by the judge prior to the jury’s decision.
       Although Moore initially insisted the film never be shown on public television, he changed his mind and Roger & Me was scheduled to air as part of the PBS P.O.V. series on 28 Sep 1992, according to a 5 Jul 1992 LAT item. A twenty-two-minute epilogue titled Pets or Meat: A Return to Flint was aired along with the documentary, claiming ten thousand more jobs were lost in Flint since the filming of Roger & Me.
      End credits include the following statements: “This movie was made with the generous support and encouragement from the following individuals: Chris Beaver, Rod Birleson, Anne Bohlen, Alan Fountain, Tom Hall, Al Hirvela, Judy Irving, David Koff, Kevin Rafferty, Elizabeth Rose, Jack Stanzler, Felipa Valdez, Laurie White, Irwin Young”; “Archival sources: Cooga Mooga, Inc.; Detroit Free Press; Detroit News; Flint Convention and Visitors Bureau; Flint Journal; Richard Prelinger; General Motors; KGO-TV, San Francisco; KRON-TV, San Francisco; Sloan Museum; Wide World Photos; WJRT-TV, Flint; WJBK-TV, Detroit; WNEM-TV, Saginaw; WTRX, Flint”; “Funding provided by: J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation; Michigan Council for the Arts; Edelman Family Fund; Essential Information; Ruth Edgerton; Center for New Television; Greater Flint Arts Council”; “Additional funding from: Ed Asner, Brian & Clarita Beck, Gary Boren, Larry & Paula Coppola, Robert Edgerton, Norman & Vivian Gottlieb, William Hayden, Eugene & Sally Herzog, Larry Jones, Frank Kolinski, Regina McNulty, Frank & Veronica Moore, Dave & Becky Pettengill, Nathan & Joan Schafer, Susan Steigerwalt, Sue Stone & John Zweifler, Ruth Zweifler, readers of the Michigan Voice, and our Tuesday night Bingo players”; “Special thanks to: Kay Armatage, Joe Bono, Kathie & Russell Carson, Peter Cavanaugh, Alexander Cockburn, George Corsetti, Barbara Davis, Lee Dichter, Ron Elfstrom, Paul & Holly Fine, Bill Gallagher, Andy Garrison, Dolores Glynn, Mr. Goodwrench, Richard Gull, Hillman & Carr, Kathy Hornsby, Dawn & Philip Issaguire, Deborah Karl, Tim Kiska, Musindo Mwinypembe, David Larzalere, Frank & Veronica Moore, Tony Morello, Stewart Mott & Kappy Wells, Jim Musselman, Ralph Nader, Bill Nisselson, Don O’Reilly, Richard Pena, Bill & Stella Pence, John Pierson, Vanessa Procopio, Pierce Rafferty, Raimondi Films, Victor & Sophie Reuther, John Richard, Jim Ridgeway, Fritz Rolland, Harriet Rubin, Doug Sanders, Len Schmitz, Barb Schroeder, Tom Scott, Kathy Smith, Lori Smith, Roger B. Smith, Robert Stone, Doris Suciu, Anne Weills, Charles White, Joe Wilson, Andrew Wylie, Jeanie Wylie"; "Bingo workers: Betty Cook, Pansy Hawkins, Ann Mathews, Bertha Serich; and to our friends & family living in Flint”; “The Flint Plasma Center is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Saturday and Sunday, they’re closed”; “Flint Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1-800-482-6708”; and, “This film cannot be shown within the city of Flint. All the movie theaters have closed.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1989
p. 3, 27.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1990.
---
Daily Variety
15 Feb 1990
p. 28, 30.
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1990.
---
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1990
p. 6, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1989
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1989
p. 1, 65.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 1989
p. 4, 20.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1990
p. 1, 25.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 1993.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1993.
---
LAHExam
25 Oct 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 1989
Calendar, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 1989
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1990
Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 1990
p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1992
Calendar, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jul 1992
Calendar, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
12 Dec 1993
Calendar, p. 95.
New York Times
21 Sep 1989
Section D, p. 1.
New York Times
27 Sep 1989
p. 15.
New York Times
1 Nov 1989
Section C, p. 20.
New York Times
20 Dec 1989
p. 18.
New Yorker
8 Jan 1990.
---
Variety
13 Sep 1989
pp. 36-37.
Variety
27 Sep 1989.
---
Variety
28 Mar 1990.
---
WSJ
21 Dec 1989
p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Dog Eat Dog Films Production
a film by Michael Moore
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SOUND
Addl sd ed
Addl sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Addl sd
Sd facilities donated by
Sd facilities donated by, Cinemotion
Sd facilities donated by, Cinemotion
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Opticals
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Legal
Legal
Legal
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col and 35mm blow-up
Addl labwork
Addl labwork
Addl labwork
Addl labwork
Addl labwork
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Am Proud To Be An American," written by Albert Malotte, performed by Pat Boone, courtesy of MCA Records
"Here He Comes, Pat Boone," written by Jerry Seelan & Artie Malvin
"Talk To Me Baby," written by Jerry Seelan & Artie Malvin, performed by Pat Boone
+
SONGS
"I Am Proud To Be An American," written by Albert Malotte, performed by Pat Boone, courtesy of MCA Records
"Here He Comes, Pat Boone," written by Jerry Seelan & Artie Malvin
"Talk To Me Baby," written by Jerry Seelan & Artie Malvin, performed by Pat Boone
"California, Here I Come," written by Buddy DeSylva, Joseph Meyer & Al Jolson
"Wouldn't It Be Nice," written by Brian Wilson & Terry Asher, performed by The Beach Boys, courtesy of Capitol Records, Inc., by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Lucky, Lucky Me," written by Milton Berle & Buddy Arnold, performed by Connie Francis, courtesy of PolyGram Special Products, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
"Back Home Again," written by John Denver
"This Guy's In Love With You," written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David
"The Newlywed Game Theme," written by Charles H. Barris, performed by Trumpets Olé, courtesy of MCA Records
"There She Is, Miss America," written by Bernie Wayne
"Union Maid," written by Woody Guthrie
"Put Your Hand In The Hand," written by Gene Maclellan, performed by Anita Bryant
"Joy To The World," written by Hoyt Axton, performed by Anita Bryant
"Michigan State University Fight Song," written by F. I. Lankey, performed by the Michigan State University Marching Band, courtesy of Fidelity Sound Recordings
"Speedy Gonzales," written by Buddy Kaye, David Hill & Ethel Lee, performed by Pat Boone
"My Hometown," written by Bruce Springsteen, performed by Bruce Springsteen, courtesy of CBS Records Music Licensing Department
"The Way It Is," written by Bruce Hornsby, performed by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, courtesy of RCA Records
"Jingle Bells," arranged by Carl Weiss, performed by The Singing Dogs, courtesy of Metorion Music Corp.
"Jailhouse Rock," written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by The Nighthawks
"Happy Birthday To You," written by Mildred J. Hill & Patty S. Hill, performed by Pat Boone
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," written by J. Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 December 1989
Premiere Information:
New York Film Festival screening: 27 September 1989
Flint, MI, premiere: 19 December 1989
Los Angeles and New York openings: 20 December 1989
Production Date:
11 February 1987--August 1989
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30126
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore discusses his childhood in Flint, Michigan, where his father worked for General Motors Corporation (GM). The company began in Flint, and one of its factories was the site of the historic 1936-37 Flint Sit-Down Strike, which lasted forty-four days and resulted in the formation of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Although his Uncle Laverne took part in the strike, and many other relatives also worked for GM, Michael idolized Flint natives who left the city to pursue other fields, such as Bob Eubanks, who became the host of the television show, The Newlywed Game. As a young man, Michael ran his own newspaper, the Michigan Voice, for ten years before San Francisco, California-based Mother Jones magazine offered him an editing position. Michael moved to San Francisco for the job, but was fired after he insisted on running a story about an automobile worker instead of an article about herbal tea. He returned to Flint just as GM announced the closing of eleven U.S. automobile plants and the layoffs of 30,000 workers. Back home, Michael documents the devastation caused by the layoffs. He points out that GM’s profits are in the billions, it has recently acquired several hi-tech companies and weapons manufacturers, and while the company is closing eleven factories stateside, it is opening eleven new factories in Mexico, where workers earn a mere seventy cents per hour. Michael’s crew poses as a Toledo, Ohio, television news team to film the assembly of the last truck at one of Flint’s GM ... +


Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore discusses his childhood in Flint, Michigan, where his father worked for General Motors Corporation (GM). The company began in Flint, and one of its factories was the site of the historic 1936-37 Flint Sit-Down Strike, which lasted forty-four days and resulted in the formation of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Although his Uncle Laverne took part in the strike, and many other relatives also worked for GM, Michael idolized Flint natives who left the city to pursue other fields, such as Bob Eubanks, who became the host of the television show, The Newlywed Game. As a young man, Michael ran his own newspaper, the Michigan Voice, for ten years before San Francisco, California-based Mother Jones magazine offered him an editing position. Michael moved to San Francisco for the job, but was fired after he insisted on running a story about an automobile worker instead of an article about herbal tea. He returned to Flint just as GM announced the closing of eleven U.S. automobile plants and the layoffs of 30,000 workers. Back home, Michael documents the devastation caused by the layoffs. He points out that GM’s profits are in the billions, it has recently acquired several hi-tech companies and weapons manufacturers, and while the company is closing eleven factories stateside, it is opening eleven new factories in Mexico, where workers earn a mere seventy cents per hour. Michael’s crew poses as a Toledo, Ohio, television news team to film the assembly of the last truck at one of Flint’s GM plants. Tom Kay, a spokesman and lobbyist for GM, says chairman Roger Smith does not like to see people laid off, but insists GM must remain competitive in a changing market. Michael writes, telephones, and faxes Smith’s office for an interview, hoping to convince the chairman to spend a day in Flint with some of the workers who have just lost their jobs. He goes to GM headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, but is denied access to the fourteenth floor where Smith’s office is located. Television news reports state that 3,400 GM workers in Flint have lost their jobs and the city’s rat population now exceeds the human population, due to abandoned houses and less frequent garbage collection necessitated by budget cuts. President Ronald Reagan holds a luncheon at a Flint restaurant, encouraging unemployed residents to seek work in other states. Michael learns that at the end of the luncheon, an attendee stole the restaurant’s cash register. At a lavish “Great Gatsby” themed party held annually at the home of one of GM’s founding families, a well-off Flint resident says the town is a great place for hockey and ballet. As African-American workers pose as mannequins around them, attendees suggest people who are out of work simply need to become self-starters. Michael searches for Roger Smith’s home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, then goes to the Gross Pointe Yacht Club to track the chairman down, to no avail. At a county fair, Flint native Bob Eubanks hosts a live version of The Newlywed Game. Michael interviews Eubanks, who admits he does not know much about Flint’s economic problems but knows of places that are worse. He makes a joke about Jewish women and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and discusses the nuances of the language he uses on his show, insisting he never uses the word "breasts," but says “chest” instead. Flint’s annual parade honors surviving members of the Flint Sit-Down Strike. There, Governor James Blanchard says the closing of GM’s factories is tragic but he does not believe a strike would do any good. Owen Bieber, the president of UAW, seconds the notion, saying that strikes no longer work the way they did in the 1930s. Meanwhile, a laid-off GM worker says the union is weak because its principals are too chummy with automobile executives. Miss Michigan, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, rides in the parade. Afterward, she remains upbeat as she tells Michael she is “for employment” and asks the people of Flint to wish her luck in the upcoming Miss America pageant. Michael notes that two weeks later, Rafko was crowned Miss America 1988. Michael follows sheriff’s deputy Fred Ross, whose job is to evict people from their homes. In one day, Ross performs twenty-five evictions, although the last one is thwarted when a female resident with children obtains permission from her landlord to stay. As he leaves, Ross tells Michael the woman will likely be evicted anyway. Three days later, he puts her out of her home. To boost the spirits of Flint residents, the mayor pays television evangelist Robert Schuller $20,000 to visit town. Billboards are erected with motivational messages, such as “Flint Works,” and at GM’s Star Theatre, spokespeople Anita Bryant and Pat Boone perform. Boone tells Michael that he has never met Roger Smith but believes he is an effective leader. Some former GM employees find work as Amway salespeople and fast-food workers at a local Taco Bell restaurant, although many, according to the restaurant’s manager, do not last in the job because the environment is too fast-paced. One unemployed Flint resident relies on Social Security payments and the money she makes from breeding rabbits and Doberman Pinschers in her backyard. A sign in her front yard advertises that she sells “Rabbits and Bunnies: Pets or Meat.” Other people donate blood plasma for money on a daily basis. News reports state that Flint now has the highest violent crime rate in America. Ex-automobile workers are hired as prison guards, where they earn roughly half the amount they earned at GM. These guards must interact with former coworkers who turned to crime after losing their jobs. At a golf course, four older, female Flint residents enjoy a round of golf. When asked about the unemployment rates in Flint, one of them suggests people without jobs do not want to work. At the Flint post office, increasing amounts of mail must be forwarded to new cities. Because so many people are leaving town, U-Haul has a hard time keeping trucks in their fleet. Still searching out a meeting with Roger Smith, Michael travels to Washington, D.C. and New York City, where the GM chairman is set to receive a “Car of the Year” award, then back to GM headquarters in Detroit. There, Michael is turned away by a GM executive who will only consider an appointment request via mail. Flint attempts to boost tourism by spending $13 million in tax funds on a new Hyatt Regency Hotel. Flint city planners hire the firm responsible for New York City’s South Street Seaport to build an indoor shopping center called the Water Street Pavilion, and over $100 million is spent on a theme park called Auto World. Although the park boasts the world’s only indoor ferris wheel, it fails to attract crowds and closes in six months. Shops are soon shuttered in the Water Street Pavilion, and the Hyatt Regency goes bankrupt. Meanwhile, Roger Smith gives himself a $2 million raise. Spokesman Tom Kay defends Smith’s choices and says GM owes nothing to the people of Flint simply because it began there. After evicting a former GM worker from his apartment, Fred Ross admits he once worked for GM but left because it was “like a prison.” When Money magazine declares Flint the worst place to live in the world, residents gather to burn copies of the magazine. Newscaster Ted Koppel travels to Flint to interview city officials about the closing of another plant, but his Nightline segment is thwarted when a Flint resident steals the news satellite truck. To accommodate the city’s crime spike, a five-story jail is built. Before its opening day, a party is held inside the jail, and attendees pay to spend the night there. Michael poses as a stockholder to gain access to a GM shareholders’ meeting. However, when he gets a chance to ask Roger Smith a question, the meeting is abruptly adjourned. The factory where the Flint Sit-Down Strike took place is closed. Only four people show up to protest as another 1,800 workers are laid off and sent home with flowers. On Christmas Eve, Fred Ross performs three evictions, while Roger Smith delivers an optimistic speech at the GM Christmas celebration. Bob Kay tells Michael that in a free market system, a corporation is not responsible for giving its workers job security “from the cradle to the grave.” Soon after, Kay is laid off and his office is closed. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.