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Men Against Death (1933)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Quarrymen at work, their working processes and equipment. Men descend the sheer quarry sides on ladders, equipment is lowered hundreds of feet by means of moveable platforms and winding gear, and workers on ropes prise huge slabs of slate from the rockface. There is slate dressing and daily quarry inspection, and the dangers of quarrying and lack of safety precautions are evident throughout. The vertiginous shots give some idea of the size and depth of the quarry which, the narrator reports, was six hundred feet deep and a quarter of a mile wide.

The narrator reports a discussion - and disagreement - amongst the men about the extent of the danger posed by a massive overhanging rock. The film's end is missing, but from documentation it is known to have evoked a disastrous rockfall, possibly recalling a real disaster which occurred at the quarry in the 19th century. In this surviving reel the narrator introduces a portentous note, with references to the towering rocks, robbed of slate, hitting back at the quarrymen. One day, he says, the high rock of the quarry, discovered to be dangerous in inspections, will crash down on the men beneath and... engulf them.