Picks and Pans Review: Monday, January 16

updated 01/16/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (9-11 p.m. ET)

This outstanding TV movie is as inspiring as Norma Rae. In 1977 eight female employees started a 15-month strike over equal pay and promotion against a bank in Willmar, Minn. This docudrama goes beyond headlines about the "Willmar 8" to show women who had to overcome their own images of themselves to succeed. A Matter of Sex is in effect a mother-daughter production. Lee Grant, 53, directed her offspring, Dinah (I Ought to Be in Pictures) Manoff, 27, as a young bank teller who becomes one of the strikers. Jean Stapleton, 60, leads the excellent cast, which includes Staple-ton's daughter, Pamela Putch, 24. Without preaching, the movie depicts the growing friendship among the women and the effects of the strike on their personal lives. Even though the National Labor Relations Board eventually decides that the strike was not caused by unfair labor practices and thus rules against the union, the women gain the admiration of the townspeople and influence the banking industry. Most important, they have achieved self-respect. As Stapleton says, "We didn't lose—we won."

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