One of the year's best films, Mary Dore's She's Beautiful When She's Angry is an urgent, illuminating dive into the headwaters of second-wave feminism, the movement that -- no matter what its detractors insist -- has given us the world in which we live. "We live in a country that doesn't like to credit any of its radical movements," Susan Brownmiller says in the film. "They don't like to admit in the United States that change happens because radicals force it." A score of those who dared force it turn up for fresh interviews in Dore's wide-ranging film: Here's Rita Mae Brown, Ellen Willis, Fran Beal, Judith Arcana, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and many more, dishing truth and priceless anecdotes about what it felt like to change the world -- and how tough it was to do so. Dore's generous with fiery archival footage as she traces the development of the National Organization for Women and its sister groups, culminating in 1970's Women's Strike for Equality.
She opens with the movement's birth — with The Feminine Mystique in '64 and the formation of NOW in '66 -- and then, just a few years later, its splintering with the New Left. At a protest targeting Nixon's election, Marilyn Webb took the stage to speak about women's issues; the crowd responded with catcalls and threats: "Fuck her down a dark alley!"
Dark alleys, of course, became a rallying point for feminists and their earliest organizations. Besides the commonsensical equal-treatment platforms, they pushed for still-controversial reproductive freedoms, most pressingly the right never again to have to seek abortions from backstreet doctors. She's Beautiful lays out the pro-choice case with a clarity that's been lost in America.