Feminist movie heroes require a suitable enemy: evil corporations.*
Wielding money and political power, these conglomerations stomp on the vulnerable, steal from the honest worker and poison the landscape. And, from Working Girl to 9 to 5 , it’s women who are liberating the common folk from their sadistic taskmasters. Though selfless in intention, and fearless in action, these crusaders often find themselves rewarded for their efforts at Oscar time: As a union-organizer in Norma Rae , Sally Field took home an Academy Award for Best Actress (and treated audiences to another inspiring performance). Two decades later, Julia Roberts won the same award as a busty single mother fighting a cancer-spewing energy company in Erin Brockovich .
Even in Hollywood’s Westerns, it takes a woman to challenge corrupt
business interests. While the frontier might seem an open landscape in
which men, women and even puppies can freely inscribe their destinies,
the truth is far darker: The cords of Money and Power often hamper its
most underestimated citizens — and force them to fight back! In the
classic Johnny Guitar ,
a railroad giant makes a crucial misstep when it attempts to drive out
a tenacious female saloonkeeper (Joan Crawford). Even Miss Goody-Goody
herself, Doris Day, joins the insurgents in The Ballad of Josie,
vying against a conglomeration of cattle herders. But in typical Day
fashion, she manages to win over the misguided menfolk less with
firepower than with her effervescent charm.
* Present company excluded.**