Great Movies That Featured Steel and Aluminium Workers

Great Movies That Featured Steel and Aluminium Workers

02nd December 2020

The world of steel and aluminium workers is something that doesn’t often make it to the big screen. Yet, there have been a couple of classic films featuring people who work with these metals for a living, while a group of real-life workers have also made it to the big screen in an unusual way.

The Full Monty

This British comedy from 1997 charmed audiences with its tale of former steel workers in Sheffield who turn to stripping to get by. It is set in Sheffield in the early 1970s, when the steel industry was in sharp decline.

The main characters have lost their jobs in the mills and come up with the idea of performing a male strip act that goes all the way by completely stripping off at the end. Robert Carlyle called it a “horrible” shoot and the actors all made sure that the final scene of them stripping off could only be shot in one take.

Despite being made on a small budget, The Full Monty was a massive success, with even Prince Charles once doing the little dance that the characters did while waiting in the dole queue. Perhaps the secret to its success was the way it combined British humour with fun dance moves and some serious topics like unemployment and relationship problems.

The Deer Hunter

This epic from 1978 features Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken among its star cast. It is about as far removed from The Full Monty as possible, yet it also has steel workers as its main characters.

The Deer Hunter starts in Clairton, Pennsylvania, where a group of friends work in a steel mill, but their jobs don’t really have a great deal of bearing on the movie. Instead, it is mainly about their experience in the Vietnam War, and their deer hunting trips.

This is regarded as one of the greatest films ever made.  This is a tense thriller that doesn’t focus much on the metal, although some scenes were shot in a Cleveland mill once a $5 million insurance policy had been set up for the actors and the CE marked fabrications.

The BA Cowboys

This final example is a bit different from the others; it isn’t about actors playing metal workers in a movie. Instead, it is the inspiring tale of a group of people from the British Aluminium factory in Falkirk who lived out their dreams.

Known as the BA Cowboys, this group of friends made their own Westerns in the 1970s, led by movie fan and fork-lift truck driver Rab Harvey. On a tiny budget, they used a Super 8 camera to make short movies like Border Badmen and The Lonesome Drifter using improvised props.

Their movies received a decent amount of publicity and raised money for charity, without ever breaking into the mainstream. The BA Cowboys’ movie-making days came to an end when redundancies saw some of the actors leave the factory, but their work has been celebrated in a BBC documentary.