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The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter

The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter

Domestic. Shop girl. Waitress. Cook. Those were the jobs for women in the 1930's — when they could get work. Suddenly the U.S. entry into World War II created an unprecedented demand for new workers. Notions of what was proper work for women changed overnight. Thousands of posters and billboards appeared calling on women to “Do the Job He Left Behind.” Rosie the Riveter was born — the symbol of working women during World War II.

After whirlwind training, women found themselves doing “men's work” and they did it so well that production levels rose despite the military call-up of millions of male workers. They discovered a new sense of pride and dignity in their work. Their earnings leapt upwards. Many joined unions and found substantial new benefits from labor representation. And for the first time in history, black women gained entry into major industrial plants.

When the war was over, Rosie wanted to stay. But neither the structure of the American economy nor the dominant view of women's place in society sustained such hopes.

The story is told by the women themselves — five former “Rosies” who movingly recall their histories working in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco during the war. Their testimony is interwoven with rare archival recruitment films, stills, posters, ads and music from the period which contrast their experiences with the popular legend and mythology of Rosie the Riveter.

“The best film on working women I have seen.”
—Molly Haskell, Ms. Magazine

“A classic movie. And an essential film in the annals of feminist history.”
​—Karen Cooper, Film Forum

“One of the Ten Best films of the Year.”
—Film Comment, Village Voice

“Best Independent Feature of the Year.”
—American Film Magazine

“The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter is a marvelous film about war work — the sanest, most forceful feminist documentary in recent years.”
—David Denby, New York Magazine

“A superb film on the experience of female workers in America during World War II. The film brilliantly exposes the hypocrisy that underlay American chauvinism during the war...a remarkable demonstration of the manipulative power of propaganda.”
—Bruce McCabe, The Boston Sunday Globe

“An excellent and extremely entertaining look at the spark that ignited the women's liberation movement.”
—GreenCine Review

“An unusually tough-minded and intelligent documentary.”
—J. Hoberman, Village Voice

“Warm, engaging and poignant. The film has that Studs Terkel-like ability to discover the extraordinary in seemingly ordinary people. Terrific.”
—The Los Angeles Times

“The vivid personal accounts and powerful contemporary footage in this film provide a compelling account of women's labor during World War II, one that inspires classroom discussion about work, gender, race, patriotism, and the historical legacy of Rosie the Riveter. I have used this film in my classes for over 20 years and it is a classic documentary, as fresh today as when it was made.”
—Professor Estelle B. Freedman, Stanford University, author of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women

“A valuable chapter in the history of working women. By mixing interviews, old photographs and some extraordinary newsreel footage, Connie Field has assembled and engrossing study of how women were brought into these jobs — and how they were dismissed at the war's end...The women who are interviewed offer enlightening memories.”
—Janel Maslin, The New York Times

“As an ex-punch press operator during World War II, I say 'hooray' for The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, a movie that really shows the way we were. In only 65 minutes, Connie Field has miraculously compressed and examined the wartime experience of women workers with all its excitement, accomplishments, irritations, humor, sadness and bigotry overcome in a common purpose.”
—Judy Stone, The San Francisco Chronicle

“The most satisfying film of the week, offering a real experience for the money. The resilience, spirit and humour of Connie Field's indomitable heroines sends you out elated and loving them.”
—The London Times

“It is the rediscovery of a lost chapter of feminine heroics; sets the record straight. It does so without self-pity. It is beautifully done.”
—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

20th Century
American Studies
Gender Issues and Studies
Social Issues
U.S. History
United States
Women's History
Women's Studies
World War II (US)


Rosie the Riveter, World War II, women, labor; "The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter"; Clarity Films

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