The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1981)

Genres - History  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Gender Issues, Military & War, Social History, Politics & Government  |   Release Date - Sep 27, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 60 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mark Deming

Tapping into America's political, social, and cultural history in a way that's both compelling and unpretentious, this documentary takes a long overdue look at an important American phenomenon of World War II, and it wraps up its well-told story in a breezy 65 minutes. As men were drafted overseas during the war, women entered America's industrial workforce, a crucial (if accidental and temporary) step forward in gender equality. Along with newsreels of female laborers hard at work in 1940s war plants, director Connie Field talks to several "Rosies," whose attitudes range from resignation to bitterness. Many women wanted to stay in industrial work, but few found such jobs open to them after the war. Yet all of them know that they were part of something important: helping to win the war, while blazing a new trail for women. Connie Fields' film makes clear this dual significance, without ever taking too heavy-handed or dryly polemical an approach.