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Made in Dagenham Movie Review

Updated on June 11, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Eileen enjoys a variety of movies and likes to share reviews of those that impress her. She also loves British television comedy series.

Movie clip

The real life Made in Dagenham

In Britain in the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s strikes at car factories happened on a regular basis.

The male car workers took part in a series of strikes which improved their pay and working conditions but female machinists working at a car factory in Dagenham were never part of the deal.

The 1960s was a time when men were the family breadwinners and women were housewives, had babies and occasionally took on more menial work

Certainly there were some women working in managerial positions or as teachers and even in some cases politicians but they were few and far between.

Many ordinary women worked for additional income to support the family and those women who were family breadwinners had a tough fight getting paid a decent wage, let alone a wage on a par with male colleagues.

The women who worked at the Ford Dagenham factory worked in dreadful conditions away from the main factory. These women, who made up just a small part of the Dagenham workforce, had to work in an old aircraft hanger that was boiling hot at certain times of year and freezing cold other times.

However these women walked out on strike after, as part of regrading exercise their work was set to be classed as less skilled. This would mean these women would receive 15% less pay than male car production workers.

The women were skilled machinists and the work was vital for the end product, a Ford car but they were undervalued and underpaid.

Those women whose male partners worked in the car industry would support their men during strike after strike but many men found it difficult to be as supportive when finally the women walked out on strike.

Eventually enough was enough and the women machinists went on strike ruffling feathers in the British government, the management, the male workforce and across the Pond in the U.S.A. at Ford headquarters

Sadly some men who went on strike more than once did not support these female workers when they finally went on strike 50 years ago in June 1968.

Even some fellow union members and union officials were not supportive.

The strike lasted three-weeks and as the conpany’s stock of car seat covers ran out production at the car factory ground to a halt

There was a Labour government in power with Harold Wilson the country’s Prime Minister.

Secretary of State for employment and production Barbara Castle stepped in and negotiated a better deal for the women at Dagenham.

The women won a victory but not the whole 15%.

However it was a start

Castle secured an immediate pay increase but it was still 8% below that of men; it was offer scheduled to rise to the full category B rate the following year.

In 1970 the Equal Pay Act was passed and in 1975 it came into force in the United Kingdom.

Made in Dagenham tells the story of this inspirational group of women who took on the big boys and furthered the fight for equal pay for w en in the U.K.

The real-life women strikers
The real-life women strikers | Source

Made in Dagenham the Movie

The movie was released in 2010, was an independent production and has an excellent cast.

Notable actors are-

  • Miranda Richardson as Labour M.P. Barbara Castle
  • Sally Hawkins in the lead role of Rita O’Grady
  • Geraldine James as Connie with the late Roger Lloyd-Pack playing her husband George. George is damaged goods following World War Two and ultimately he commits suicide
  • The late Bob Hoskins playing Albert who encouraged Rita and her female colleagues to take industrial action

This movie captures 1968 well

The fashions, mood, lifestyle, average male opinion, British trade union movement, political landscape, sense that a woman’s place is in the home and strict divisions between a woman and a man’s role in life are portrayed perfectly.

Made in Dagenham has tragedy, humour and drama and it is based largely on real-life events though as with all movies there is an element of dramatic licence.

The story is told in an entertaining lighthearted way but the real story was a much tougher scenario.

If you have never watched Made in Dagenham I recommend you do.

It was aired on mainstream TV in England Saturday on BBC2.

I watched it for a second time and will happily watch it again.

It may be currently available on BBC catch up in the U.K. and is also available on DVD.

Made in Dagenham has also been made into a musical and stage play.

For women it is an empowering movie

It highlights what can be achieved when workers take action.

There were 55,000 male car production workers and just 187 skilled women machinists but the walk-out showed that the women were as vital to production as their male colleagues.

Did these women help change pay for women across the U.K? Yes I think they did

Official trailer

Equal pay

Two original strikers with cast of theatre play
Two original strikers with cast of theatre play | Source

How do you rate Made in Dagenham the Movie?

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Made in Dagenham the Movie

Comments

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      21 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Peggy. Equal pay has worked but as you say not entirely. But for many women it works

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for your review of this movie. It seems that the work of women as compared to men has been undervalued in many places.

      Did your "Equal Pay Act" work in Great Britain? Are women now paid exactly the same as men if working in the same business or work environment?

      On average it is still not completely equitable in the United States.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      21 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Liz. Great film in my opinion

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      21 months ago from UK

      This is a well-written review and a timely reminder to me that I still have the DVD in the cupboard to watch.

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