Set in 1968, Made in Dagenham fictionalizes a true story about a group of female sewing machinists employed by Ford who were tired of being classified as unskilled labor and went on strike for equal pay. Their efforts ultimately led to the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The women are led by Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), a modest working-class woman who continues to surprise herself and others with her natural aptitude to organize, negotiate, and lead an important political cause that is still relevant.
Elaine May gained notoriety for directing the 1987 Hollywood mega-disaster Ishtar, but before that she broke barriers for women in comedy with longtime partner-in-crime Mike Nichols, and for women in film with her gripping Mikey and Nicky and hilarious The Heartbreak Kid. She's worked against the grain as a writer and director, pushing against systems that normally value women only for their looks and not their wit. And, to top it all off, she's still pretty damn funny.
As we enter into the third week of the series, I thought we’d continue our conversation about fables and girlhood generated by Friday’s post on Hanna by looking at Spanish director Victor Erice’s haunting 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive. The film filters a young girl’s experience with James Whale’s Frankenstein through the lens of Francoism, familial and sisterly discord, and the interrelated nature of fear and fascination that shapes children’s psychologies.
Robert Altman's Come Back to the Five and Dime offers a space to explore film characters' relationship to fandom and identity politics, as well as the relationship between actresses and male directors.