HIDDEN FIGURES — Review by Susan Granger

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Searching through history often reveals untold true stories that are hidden gems: this is one of them. During the early 1960s, several African-American women worked for NASA, providing the mathematical data needed to launch America’s first successful space mission. But, every day – in a myriad of ways – their integrity and perseverance were challenged by the hostile racism and inherent sexism of that period. Read on…

Graduating from college summa cum laude at the age of 18, Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) was, perhaps, the most brilliant mathematician of her time.

When the Space Task Group’s manager, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), finally admitted Katherine into the elite rocket scientists’ inner sanctum, she calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Earth orbit in 1962 and subsequent missions.

But Katherine suffered daily humiliations, including not being allowed to use bathroom facilities in the building in which she worked and being assigned an often-empty ‘colored coffee’ thermos.

“They’ve never had a colored in her before,” personnel supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) explains.

Even Katherine’s admiring husband-to-be (Mahershala Ali) could not comprehend her aptitude for analytical geometry.

Katherine’s colleagues Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (R&B star Janelle Monae) were similarly humiliated, condescendingly referred to as ‘colored computers’ and paid considerably lower wages.

Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the title aptly symbolizes the obscurity of black female statisticians during that segregated era – yet the screenplay by Allison Schroeder and director Theodore Melfi (“St. Vincent”) contains several moments of feel-good humor.

Like when Dorothy’s Chevy Bel-Air breaks down and a cop stops to question them. When they explain they work for NASA, he gives them a police escort to the research center at Langley, prompting Mary to quip, “We’re three Negro women chasing a white cop in 1961!”

As well as producing the film, Pharrell Williams also oversaw the musical elements and soundtrack.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hidden Figures” is an uplifting 8, delivering an inspiring message of hope.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.