Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Act of Vengeance

Act of Vengeance was a 1986 fact-based TV movie about the corruption that occurred during the United Mine Workers' 1969 presidential elections. Jock Yablonski (Charles Bronson) was a loyal follower of then chief Tony Boyle (Wilford Brimley). That all changed after 80 men are killed in an unsafe West Virginia coal mine and Boyle defended the mine owners. At his wife's (Ellen Burstyn) urging and in fear of his life, Yablonski launched his campaign. And in fact, he became the target of assassins. One of the assassins, Paul Gilly, was played by actor Robert Schenkkan. (Surprised that Fire in the Hole or Which Side Are You On? aren't even bloodier or have more corruption!)

The 1969 UMW presidential elections and the Yablonski murders are included in Harlan County USA. As I was watching the movie, I recalled knowing all about it and tried to recall why. With a little research, I found that defendant W. A. "Tony" Boyle was on trial from March 25 through April 11, 1974 for the murder in Media, PA - my hometown and the county seat. I seem to recall the trial was moved from another jurisdiction to our local courthouse. So, it was front page and prime-time news every day for months before and during the trial.