I learned a lot about people by standing behind a a cash register. When a new store opened in the city’s shopping district, I applied for a part-time position to see what it would be like to work in retail. It turned out to be an interesting experience for me. I discovered practically every customer showed some sign of being prejudiced towards the employees, however subtle it may have been. If a person came up to the counter to ask for directions they always asked me instead of any female employee. When it came to questioning the sizes of clothing or if items matched, I was always ignored. Both men and women consistently asked only the female workers. I found the whole thing amusing; curious how people’s perceptions were formed. Since we were all on the same pay scale it did not matter to any of us. In the scheme of things what I have just described was rather minor. If I had told you the female employees were hired at a lower pay scale then the men, I am sure you would have had a stronger reaction. Sadly that still happens in today’s world. Here is a perfect example of a movie being both informative and entertaining. This dramatization of a true story was set in England during the late 1960’s, at one of the country’s biggest employers of British workers, the Ford auto plant in the city of Dagenham. Sally Hawkins (Happy-G-Lucky, Never Let Me Go) played Rita O’Grady, one of the women machinists who worked on the cars’ interiors. Besides the poor conditions and hard work, Rita discovered the company was being discriminatory towards the women. She was pushed into taking some kind of action. Except for the hard time I had with the heavy British accents, I was fully drawn into the story of the women’s plight. The costumes and sets were perfect in depicting the era. I found the high level of consistent acting made for a cohesive storytelling experience. Bob Hoskins (Hook, Snow White and the Huntsman) as union representative Albert Passingham, Miranda Richardson (The Young Victoria, Sleepy Hollow) as Secretary of State for Employment Barbara Castle and Daniel Mays (Atonement, The Bank Job) as Rita’s husband Eddie were some of the actors that stood out for me. This was a story of historical significance that could be seen equally by women and men.
3 1/3 stars — DVD
Talk about your impulse buying; Mrs. Laura Henderson bought herself a theater. Inspired by true events, I felt Judi Dench (Casino Royale, Jane Eyre) was perfect to portray Mrs. Henderson, the woman who opened the famous Windmill Theater in London, England during the 1930’s. With flair, humor and impeccable diction, Mrs. Henderson had the drive and determination to hire theater Impresario Vivian Van Damm, played by Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Vanity Fair). The combination of these two dominant characters created its own theatrical show, as they argued and threatened each other to try and get their own way. Pay attention to their dialog, for it was crisp and loaded with some fun, sly remarks. With the success of the theater, soon other places started copying the windmill’s revues. Being an independent, free thinking woman for the times, Mrs. Henderson came up with a brillant idea–incorporate naked women into the shows. Mr. Van Damm insisted it would never be allowed, but that would not stop Laura Henderson. Not even World War II would stop her as the theater’s famous motto, “We Never Closed” would humorously be altered to “We Never Clothed.”
3 stars — DVD