Friday, December 17th, 2010


In 1968 a group of some 180 women machinists in the Ford Factory in Dagenham, a London suburb, defied the fiercely male entrenched society at the time and did the unheard of thing by going out on strike and demanding equal pay. Lined up against them were Trade Union Officials that cozied up to Management, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson who was not wanting to alienate a big corporate employer, the powerful might of Ford itself, and worse of all, the women’s own husbands who, like most of the town, were also Ford employees.  But thanks to an unlikely naïve but passionate heroine forced into the limelight as their shop steward whi even managed to sway the formidable Barbara Castle the UK’s first female Employment Minister,  they won their case.
‘RITA’  in her BIBA dress

This delightful period piece tells of a historic breakthrough in women’s rights but in a thoroughly enchanting and entertaining manner thanks in no small part to director Nigel Cole (‘The Calendar Girls’ & ‘Saving Grace’) who seems to excel at portraying plucky women.  But most credit to Sally Hawkins who so superbly underplays the role of Rita the women’s leader and proves what a dynamic actress she really is (and maybe how wrong I was in dismissing her so quickly after ‘Happy Go Lucky’ where she annoyed the hell out of me: but hey, whilst my revues are always spot on (!) I have never claimed that they were objective.) And I loved Miranda Richardson as the fiery red-headed Mrs. Castle who verbally beat up her male Civil Servants at every opportunity.

R.T.V. I read recently the Brits produce two genres of movies very well viz. Period Pieces and Blue Collar (working-class) Dramas.  This one is a superb example of both.
P.S. In 197O the UK went on to introduce the Equal Pay Act and Ford and all the other corporations had to change their working practices.  BUT that was then, and this is now.  Last month a Republican filibuster in the Senate prevented the success of the Paycheck Families Act which would have strengthen equal pay right,  so some things never change.


Posted by queerguru  at  15:24


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