Peace is a Woman's Job (2004)
VHS or DVD from Allyson Adams,
P.O. Box 95, Virginia City, MT 59755
Golden sunset scenes of a teen-aged girl riding a spirited horse across lush prairie landscapes magically draw you into Peace is a Woman's Job, a lively re-enactment of the life and times of Montana's Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the United States Congress. Created by Montana writer/director/actress Allyson Adams, Peace is based on a one-woman play Adams has presented at numerous venues throughout Montana.
Adams' fifty-one minute docu-drama effectively "opens up" the stage play with a variety of interesting locales, including colorful interiors in the Montana State Captiol in Helena. Cinematographer David Butler's warm imagery takes you back in time to just before World War 1, when the Missoula-born Rankin was traveling the breadth of Montana in a battered Model T as a social reformer and suffragette in a successful drive for women's voting rights. With the aid of her Harvard-educated brother, Wellington, Jeannette Rankin then mounts a grass roots campaign for Congress in 1916, which she also wins.
In the lead role as Rankin, Adams gives a spirited portrayal and is ably supported by a largely non-professional cast and extras. Drawing on the resources of Montana suppliers, the vintage "look" of cowboys, ranch women, suffragettes, and mining company thugs is pleasingly authentic. Rankin apparently had a penchant for hats, and the millinery reflects that admirably.
While the majority of the film concentrates on Rankin's early career, culminating in her controversial vote against entering the war in 1917, the rest of her colorful life, including another term in Congress in 1940 and another vote against entering another war (World War II), is adequately conveyed in a montage of archival stills. As a brief historical overview of one of Montana's truly remarkable people, Peace is a Woman's Job is fascinating and worthwhile viewing.
By: Les Benedict