DVD review ‘Made in Dagenham’: Women steer to victory

I’ll admit: I’m biased. Prejudiced even. Call it what you will. But I believe in and champion women’s rights, big-time.

That’s in large part because I believe in women and what they have to offer the world, but also because it galls me how much — in this allegedly modern age — their treatment ranges from borderline basic equality in some societies to harsh oppresssion in others.

So Made in Dagenham (new on DVD from Sony) is my kind of movie — and also because it’s set in the swingin’ ’60s, with tunes by American and British groups playing and the women wearing hair and dress styles of the era. They do so while working at a massive Ford plant, where they assemble the upholstery for the interior of cars — and get paid precious little to do it. Why? Because Ford and other employers can get away with it.

So they strike, and do so for a radical concept: equal pay as men. Whoa — the brass back in Michigan can’t wrap their arms, or narrow minds, around that.

What ensues is an uplifting comedy-drama in which Sally Hawkins as union leader Rita is this film’s Norma Rae. She also must stand up to a bullying and violently abusive man who’s tormenting her son at school. So it’s not just females that suffer here — but most of the suffering is due to men.

Yet men also are good guys, especially Bob Hoskins as a union rep who sides with the women from the get-go, citing his own mother who worked so hard and for so little to raise her family.

Also shining, but in a smaller role, is Miranda Richardson as Secretary of Employment Barbara Castle — Harold Wilson calls her the best “man” in his cabinet — who obviously sides with the women.

The film got BAFTA nominations in 14 categories but no Oscar love, perhaps in part because it’s too British. A warning: You may need to activate subtitles to grasp some of the heavily-accented dialogue.

Based on a true story, this film essentially shows how somebody, somewhere, sometime has to stand up, in order for others to get a chance down the line. But though progress has ensued, the shame is that so much injustice continues.

I have advice for all men: Try appreciating, loving and respecting females, and hold them in at least the same regard as you hold males. Then see if you’re not a happier person. I know it works for me. Heck, it even could work for Ford.


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