In 1979, film-maker Leon Hirszman (1937–1987) collaborated with playwright Gianfrancesco Guarnieri on a film adaption of Guarnieri's famous play about Brazilian working-class life, They Don't Wear Black-Tie. The result...展开ing film, released in 1981, reconfigured the politics and content of the 1958 play to fit the new era of the late 1970s when dramatic metalworkers' strikes placed Sao Paulo on the front lines in the fight against the Brazilian military dictatorship. Using biography and the dramatic and cinematic texts, this article traces the political and aesthetic challenges facing these two important cultural figures and their generation of radical intellectuals. In particular, the article will explain why an image of “workers” proved so central in the making of modern Brazilian theater and film since the late 1950s, while exploring the changing configuration of intellectual and povo (common people) between the late Populist Republic and the remaking of the Brazilian working class during the late 1970s. Throughout, it will ask: What is the cultural, political, and historical substance or significance of the presentation of workers in Black-Tie? Does it represent an expression of social reality? And if so, what reality, and whose vision?