The last pullman car

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Contact: TIM HORSBURGH 773-472-4366 @Kartemquin

Award-winning 1984 documentary covers fight of USW union workers to keep open Pullman-Standard Company train car plant.
This Film is a Battle Cry! – Studs Terkel
(Chicago, IL) – Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) is releasing on DVD for the first time The Last Pullman Car, a gripping documentary about workers fighting closure of a train plant.
In 1981, the United Steelworkers Local 1834 tried in vain to keep the Pullman-Standard Company from shutting down its operations in Pullman, Illinois, putting hundreds out of work. Capturing the local union’s doomed fight against deindustrialization, the film is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.


The Last Pullman Car began when some of the workers approached us about the struggle they were in to save the last American manufacture of rail cars,” said Kartemquin’s Artistic Director and co-founder, Gordon Quinn. “Over the next few months we began to see that their story was a story about the future of America and they began to trust us enough to let us into the center of the conflict."

A new DVD feature shot in 2011 shows the film’s main subjects returning to the former plant in Historic Pullman, Illinois for an emotional viewing of the film. When asked what lessons can be learned from their experience, one of the workers firmly answers: “You know. we have to start supporting people and the political arena that supports the working class.”
The film, directed and produced by Gordon Quinn and Jerry Blumenthal, won First Prize at the Athens International Film Festival, an Honorable Mention at the 1984 American Film Festival, a prize at Chicago International Film Festival, and screened at Rotterdam and Big Muddy film festivals. It aired on PBS in 1984.

The 1984 film has never been released on DVD, and a master print was only found through a chance query. Kartemquin’s Post-Production and Preservation Associate Nora Gully, explains: “We heard that DuArt, a film processing lab in NYC, was cleaning out their vaults. We contacted them to see if they had film elements of ours. They did!”

“As for sound,” Gully added, “the 3-track 35mm master mix was transferred at Chace Audio by Deluxe in LA, so this DVD has better sound than ever before.”

The Last Pullman Car is available from the Kartemquin store on September 25th:

The DVD features a new digital transfer of the film, along with video of a 2011 Q&A with the film’s main subjects and a study guide from the original release.

VIDEO: The Last Pullman Car producers Jerry Blumenthal and Gordon Quinn introduce the film:

DVD Extra Features
The Fight Continues:
Pullman Factory Today: Screening and Q&A with Film Subjects.
Wisconsin Protests Governor's Union Busting.
Interview with the Filmmakers.

From the Archives:
Historical Photographs of Pullman Train Cars.
Study Guide from the Original Release.

 Reviews from 1984:


"This film is a battlecry!"

Studs Terkel


"Never intrusive and avoiding obvious human interest techniques 'Pullman Car' makes the members of local 1834 come alive on their own terms… By the time the film is over it's impossible to distance oneself from the plight of these workers who are being shunted aside by their company, by their legislators, and by society as a whole."

Larry Kart, Chicago Tribune


"Succeeds in presenting a film from the workers' perspective. It draws the audience into an immediate concern for the men and women about to lose their source of livelihood. Perhaps this story is more appealing than other chronicles of laid-off workers because it is more than a tale of lost jobs. It is the loss of generations of skills. It is the loss of the last American company in the passenger railcar industry. It is a vivid example of a new America where economic and political policies insure that large corporations can make more profits closing down manufacturing facilities than operating them."

Ray Pasnick, a United Steelworkers staff representative in District 31, USWA, in Labor Research Review. (Read this full review - PDF)

About Kartemquin

In 1966, Kartemquin Films began making documentaries that examine and critique society through the stories of real people. Their documentaries, such as The Interrupters, Hoop Dreams and The New Americans, are among the most acclaimed of all time, leaving a lasting impact on millions of viewers.

Kartemquin Films is a home for independent media makers who seek to create social change through film. With a noted tradition of nurturing emerging talent and acting as a leading voice for independent media, Kartemquin is building on over 45 years of being Chicago's documentary powerhouse. Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. / @Kartemquin /

Links to Last Pullman Car DVD & extras online

The Last Pullman Car main feature

Password: PullmanFeature

Pullman Factory 2011 Screening

Password: xtras

Wisconsin Protests Governor's Union Busting

Password: xtras

Interview with the Filmmakers

Password: xtras

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