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She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry is a brisk but reasonably ranging and inclusive history of the multifaceted U.S. women’s liberation movement from 1966 (the founding of the National Organization for Women) to 1971, from genteel to radical.

3.5 out of 4 stars

Directed by
Mary Dore
Starring
Rita Mae Brown, Susan Brownmiller, Kate Millett
Country
USA
Language
English

We hear a news anchor sign off telling viewers that he's a male chauvinist (without a drop of shame); witness the world's first National Ogle Day (wherein women reverse cat-call shaming culture by objectifying men); watch a demonstration against the Miss America pageant; and read the punny placards at a pro-choice rally. In today's era of slutwalks, #FHRITP and Donald Trump, Mary Dore's documentary is powerful proof that the past is prologue. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court's final ruling before hiatus granted an emergency appeal from Texas abortion clinics, but come fall the underlying constitutional issues will be open for debate. Again.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry is a brisk but reasonably ranging and inclusive history of the multifaceted U.S. women's liberation movement from 1966 (the founding of the National Organization for Women) to 1971, from genteel to radical. Ms. Dore gives the floor to the key figures from the many collectives, action committees and groups of the day, a who's who of activists from Rita Mae Brown and Betty Friedan to Denise Oliver-Velez and the women of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

For those accustomed to seeing many of the straight-talking women immortalized strident and fearless in archive footage, the personal stories they share here are made all the more moving – they were, as one points out, just thousands of "regular women." As passionate as ever, not just to their ostensible opponents but within the movement's own many differing priorities and controversial protest methods, factions were and are often at odds on matters of gender, class, sexual orientation and race (or what some now call intersectional feminism).

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The decades-long indignation is necessary, though, because no victories are permanent. Ms. Dore's work is not only a tribute to past bravery and determination, but also a warning and urgent rallying cry to the next wave.

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