The Battle of the Compañeros

New York -- You've gotta love Wal-Mart. The enormous range: everything from apples to Zingers by way of bikes, guns and frozen cheesecake. The low prices. The logistical muscle, thanks to which victims of Hurricane Katrina were offered food, supplies, emergency generators and a cheery helping hand long before state aid arrived. Then, of course, there are the figures: 3,800 branches in the United States, 1,700 more worldwide, including 88 "supercenters" in Germany. More than 138 million customers can't be wrong.

Or can they? Robert Greenwald thinks so. The California-based documentary filmmaker famed for "Outfoxed," his cinematic broadside against Rupert Murdoch's cable TV channel Fox News, is taking the retail giant to task.

"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," his 97-minute cinematic indictment à la Michael Moore originally screened in New York and Los Angeles and went into wider release across the rest of the country on Friday. In the film, Greenwald reproaches the multibillion dollar company for a catalogue of sins as long as the country's regal canyons: deserted small towns, ruined small businesses, rotten working conditions. "And for the most part," explains one shop assistant bitterly, "they do it all with a smile."