Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Michèle Midori Fillion and María Agui Carter
Directed by Michèle Midori Fillion
DVD, color, 61 min.
Sr. High - General Adult
American Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies, Journalism, Biography, History, Media Studies, Military Studies
Reviewed by Sarah B. Cornell, Daniel Webster College
Date Entered: 5/24/2012
Several documentaries tell the story of war correspondents in general, but No Job for a Woman candidly relates the conditions under which women journalists worked before, during, and after WWII.
The story of female war correspondents follows the general pattern of women in the WWII-era work force as a whole. Unwelcome in “serious” reporting before the war, a few pioneers broke into the field. As the war effort escalated more publishers needed to make use of their time and talent. When the Women’s Auxiliary Corps was created to allow more men to go to the front, the military began to send women to cover the WACs, but severely restricted the reporters’ movements. When the war was over and the men returned home, these intrepid war correspondents were often consigned to the women’s pages again. No Job for a Woman demonstrates the nerve and determination it took to survive as a second-class reporter by combining actors’ readings of the words of correspondents themselves with more traditional documentary techniques.
Almost 140 women were accredited war correspondents during WWII. No Job for a Woman focuses on Martha Gellhorn, Dickey Chapelle, and Ruth Cowan. This selection is very effective: Ruth Cowan had already been pushing the envelope regarding what female journalists should cover (indeed, whether they were employable as journalists at all), Martha Gellhorn had written about the wars in Spain and Germany alongside her husband Ernest Hemingway for several years, and Dickey Chapelle was an aviation enthusiast and photographer who always wanted to be in the middle of the action.
No Job for a Woman benefits from a high production value and a well-constructed story arc for each woman. One of many high points is the portrayal of Martha Gellhorn, Dickey Chapelle, and Ruth Cowan by Elyse Mirto, Dorothea Harahan, and Kathleen McNenny. Their enthusiasm and strength of character are expressed extremely well, which adds a great deal of vitality to the documentary.
No Job for a Woman would be an excellent addition to courses on women in the workforce and a great way to spark discussions of how women’s roles in society were changed by WWII.