This movie from 2010 is the true a group of some 180 women machinists in the Ford Factory in Dagenham, a London suburb, who in 1968 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, and Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson who was not wanting to alienate a big corporate employer, plus 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. However thanks to an unlikely naïve but passionate heroine forced into the limelight as their shop steward who even managed to sway the formidable Barbara Castle the UK’s first female Employment Minister, they won their case.
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. Most for this goes 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 Mike Leigh’s ‘Happy Go Lucky’ when her somewhat misplaced performance did not play well) . Plus I loved Miranda Richardson as the fiery red-headed Mrs. Castle who verbally beat up her male Civil Servants at every opportunity.
Brit filmmakers particularly excel at producing two genres of movies very well viz. Period Pieces and Blue Collar (working-class) Dramas. This one is a superb example of both.
PS 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, but some things never change.
PPS In 2014 the movie was adapted into a stage musical by David Arnold and is currently playing in London’s West End.
Labels: 2010, British, comedy, dramatized reallife