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Daybreak (c. 1971)

Don Stokes

Sound | c. 1971

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  •  Willie Farah on right 
  •  A mariachi band plays in the cafeteria 
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  • About the video
  • Farah, Incorporated Farah, Incorporated
  • Gilbert Roland Gilbert Roland
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This industrial film, narrated by El Paso film star Gilbert Roland, profiles the human side of Farah Manufacturing Company, Inc. From the company’s founding through the 1960s, Farah was considered a patriotic American company that offered its employees on-site health care, cafeteria benefits, and a generous wage. This film describes the family atmosphere of the company where supervisors are empathetic and called by their first name, where there are “no titles, no bosses, no distant executives”, and employees are paid higher than the industry standard. At the time of this film, Farah had just expanded to include international operations, was the second largest employer in El Paso, and was achieving record-breaking sales. Due to this sudden growth, Farah began to demand that workers meet higher quotas and benefits were tightened. This film was likely a response to increasing tensions within the corporation, tensions that exploded in 1972 when 4,000 workers went on strike, resulting in a national boycott of Farah slacks from which the company never quite recovered. The film attempts to communicate to its employees that “all that technology and all those machines wouldn’t amount to a ‘hill of jeans’ without the real wealth of Farah: its people.”
Farah, Incorporated was founded in 1920 by Lebanese immigrants Mansour and Hana Farah. What began as a small shirt manufacturing operation in El Paso had expanded to a 65,000 square foot plant by 1939. Entering the war years, Farah began to manufacture army khaki combat pants, fatigues, jungle wear, and uniforms. In 1953, the family purchased a second plant in El Paso that stood at 116,000 square feet and prduced 2,000 pairs of pants daily. In 1964, William Farah, later known as "Papa Willie," seceded his father as president of the company. It was under his control in the 1970s that the company management experienced bitter conflict with its workers. By that time, the company was the 2nd largest employer in El Paso with 7,000 employees, and had grown to seven manufacturing plants, five of which were in El Paso. While the company had once been known as a patriotic company with on-site health care and cafeteria benefits for employees, the dramatic growth of the company changed the dynamic between management and workers as the need for increased production to meet higher quotas arose. The company never quite recovered from their losses in the 1970s, and Papa Willie was at the center of further conflicts with the company's board in the 1980s. While a Farah plant and distribution center is still in operation in El Paso today, it is a much smaller operation than at its peak in the early 70s.
Film actor, Gilbert Roland was born Luis Antonio Damaso de Alonso in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 11, 1905. Roland dreamed of becoming a bullfighter from a young age but developed an interest in acting when his family moved to El Paso. He chose his stage name by combining the names of his two favorite actors John Gilbert and Ruth Roland. In 1925, Roland made his first major film debut in The Plastic Age alongside his real life love interest, Clara Bow.  Roland married actress Constance Bennett in 1941. The couple had two children before divorcing five years later. In 1954, Roland married Guillermina Cantú, their union lasted until his death on May 15, 1994. Despite being cast as the typical Latin Lover, Roland enjoyed a long and varied carrier which included roles in such films as 1927’s Camille, John Huston’s We Were Strangers, The Bad and the Beautiful, Thunder Bay, and John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn