Worker rights is one of those issues we tend to take for granted, but the safe working conditions we have were earned by those who fought, and often died, to get them. One of these great American stories that has gone mostly unnoticed gets its due on the big screen with Radium Girls, which stars the promising duo of actresses Joey King and Abby Quinn.
If you don’t know, the “Radium Girls” were the female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning while painting glow-in-the-dark watch dials and other products, having been led to believe that radium was safe. King and Quinn play sisters Bessie and Jo, who in 1928 are two of these girls working at a fictional plant, only to have one fall ill under mysterious circumstances. When other girls also start getting sick, they join with other activists to expose a corporate scandal.
King is coming off her Emmy-nominated performance in The Act, but has been doing great work ever since her breakout role in Ramona & Beezus, which seems like forever ago. Quinn became a festival darling a couple of years ago in Landline, and was seen recently in both After the Wedding and Little Women.
The film is co-directed by Ginny Mohler and Oscar-nominated Cutie & the Boxer producer Lydia Dean Pilcher, with Lily Tomlin on board to exec-produce. Shot in 2017, it debuted at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and is finding its way into theaters this year on April 3rd.
SYNOPSIS: Based on true events set in 1928, in New Jersey, teenage sisters, Bessie and Jo, dream of faraway places as the paint glow-in-the-dark watch dials at the American Radium Factory. When Jo loses a tooth, Bessie’s world turns upside down as the mystery of Jo’s disease slowly unravels. Bessie befriends two young activists and in a radical coming of age, she exposes a corporate scandal. Bessie and the “Radium Girls” file a lawsuit against American Radium. This notorious case ultimately led to a lasting impact in the area of workplace health and safety as well as the study of radioactivity.