50 years of ‘The Molly Maguires’ celebrated at The Kirby

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– It’s a big anniversary for a movie that means so much to our region’s coal industry. It’s been 50 years since “The Molly Maguires,” which honors our mining heritage, was released.

The Molly Maguires released this month back in 1970 — a tribute to the struggle of northeastern Pennsylvania miners against oppressive conditions.

“You have to keep your heritage,” said John Flannery of Wilkes-Barre. “You have to remember where you came from, you know?”

Friday night, a special screening at the F.M. Kirby Center put the story on the big screen where it had premiered — 50 years earlier when the theater was called The Paramount.

“To see it here on the big screen it’s a major thing. It really is,”Flannery said.

Some remember seeing the movie when it first premiered. Others remember the work of people in our area to bring the film to life.

“I know there’s a lot of people that, locally, were participating in this movie as extras,” said Karel Zubris of Wilkes-Barre. “It’s cool to see that, too, that people who have passed on actually come back to life again in this movie.”

The movie may be based on a novel, but depicts real struggles of some of the backbone of the region.

“The importance of the mining industry was the importance of the country,” said Don Sanderson, who was present for the film representing the Anthracite Heritage Foundation. “The industrial revolution would not have happened without anthracite mining.”

Many can trace their family tree to miners in the area and some are keeping their memory alive in different ways.

“My son actually goes to Penn State University and is studying mine exploration right now,” said Zubris. “It’s passing on from one generation to the next.”

Friday night kicked off a series of cinema classics each month this year that will make their way back to the silver screen in Wilkes-Barre.

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