8 Movies with Strong Women for March 8th
Another movie list for you to stumble on some little gems. And because it’s International Women’s Day these are all movies with strong women.
The Rise of Catherine the Great 1934
Elisabeth Bergner plays Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst. We watch Princess Sophie on the journey she took to become Catherine the Great.
So this may be from the the 1930s. And it may not be the most historically accurate tale. But the women in this film really rule. In all the ways that matter. Eventually.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr plays the mad Peter III of Russia.
Meet John Doe 1941
Barbara Stanwyck plays Ann Mitchell.
Ann is a writer for a newspaper that’s streamlining its costs. A new managing editor is hired and the lay-offs begin. Ann begs for her job as her family depend on her income. Her plea falls on deaf ears so she writes her final column saying she received a letter from a John Doe who was laid off four years ago, hasn’t been able to find work since and is so sick of the way the world works that he’s going to jump off City Hall roof. The piece gets a huge response, Ann keeps her job and a suitable John Doe (played by Gary Cooper) is picked to fill the role.
Ann carefully crafts her every-man John Doe character railing against the injustice, inhumanity and lack of community in the modern world. She does such a good job that the public believe and enthusiastically support John Doe. Who then begins to believe it all himself.
Edward Arnold plays D.B. Norton a rich business man who sees the potential in John Doe. This naive man-boy could galvanise the masses. And allow Norton push his political agenda – which is all about promoting his own business interests.
My Sister Eileen 1942
Rosalind Russell leads this comedy about two sisters from a small town come to New York to start their careers. Eileen, played by Janet Blair, wants, above all, to be an actor. And Rosalind Russell is the older sister, Ruth Sherwood, who dreams of becoming a writer. Funny and refreshing.
Magnificent Doll 1946
I had never heard of Dolly Payne Madison before watching this. She was the first lady of President James Madison. And a very interesting woman apparently. She is played here by Ginger Rogers.
I think this film is brilliant. There are a lot of comments on IMDB about Ginger Rogers “missing something” in the role. I don’t see it. I see a great performance of a great woman.
The Andromeda Strain 1971
Dr. Ruth Leavitt played by Kate Reid. When I decided to make this list, this is the only character I had in mind.
I simply love the character of this doctor. There is no mention of any romantic interest. She doesn’t give a damn how she looks or if she’s attractive. The world is in peril. So – obviously – all she gives a damn about is the work she has to do and doing it well.
This is such a real character to me. Yes, it’s a character in a sci-fi film. A film with the usual slightly ridiculous plot. But this is a real woman. She is not defined by her relation to others. Instead she is a person in her own right. With a mission of her own. That has nothing to do with her sex or sexuality. She’s the reason I love this film.
Well she’s one of the reasons – it is also great old school sci-fi.
The Accused 1988
Jody Foster plays Sarah Tobias. Sarah was gang raped by three men in a bar while a crowd cheered them on. Kelly McGillis plays Kathryn Murphy, a public prosecutor.
Sarah was drinking and acting provocatively the night of the crime. The prosecutors are worried she won’t make a good witness. And so they offer the perpetrators a deal of accepting a lesser charge that will ensure they do time.
Sarah is very upset. One of the crowd sees her at a local store and starts harassing her. She ends up ramming her car into his truck to try and get away from him. Kathryn visits Sarah in hospital and decides to go after the men who incited the rapists.
What The Accused highlights very well is how a victim of sexual crime faces, in a sense, being put on trial themselves.
Kuroi ame (Black Rain) 1989
Yoshiko Tanaka plays Yasuko. Mr and Mrs Shizuma, and their niece Yasuko, make their way through the ruins of Hiroshima. This journey takes place at the end of WWII, just after the atomic bomb has dropped.
Five years later, Yasuko lives with her aunt and uncle, and her senile grandmother. The village contains many of the bomb survivors. The physical and mental scars of the attack and war are readily apparent. And if they are not, people suspect their presence anyway.
Yasuko does not appear to be affected by the bomb. But her aunt and uncle are worried about her marriage prospects. As people may believe she is sick.
The consideration that Yasuko and all her family show towards each other is so selfless and beautiful. Shows a different kind of strength. And it’s utterly devastating.
Jackie Brown 1997
There is a brilliant poem by Rudyard Kipling, If. I’m sure you know it. Here’s a link to it – If. It’s about what it means to be a man as opposed to a child.
It’s got everything good and true in it. Does it bother me this is how he defines man? And not woman? I don’t care how he defined women. This poem is the definition of a real grown-up. Even as a little girl I saw that instantly and loved it.
Pam Grier plays Jackie Brown. Jackie Brown inhabits a very tricky world – of mostly infants. But she is a real grown up.
Also this is a good old yarn.