Ever since "Gone With the Wind" David O Selznick had been looking for something to surpass his great opus. "Duel in the Sun" was considered interesting, but a bit "tacky". His last production, "A Farewell to Arms" was a complete disaster. In 1944, "Since You Went Away" came closer to GWTW, as a tear inducing epic than most, but even this was somewhat trounced by Goldwyn's not disimilar "The Best Years of Our Lives", directed by William Wyler in 1946.
Claudette Colbert is perfect as the matriarch forced into taking in a lodger, when her husband - an officer, of course - is called into sevice during WW2. Monty Woolley plays the lodger, estranged from his nephew, Robert Walker, a reluctant recruit, who falls for one of Colbert's daughters, Jennifer Jones. The younger daughter is a teenaged Shirley Temple. Both work well together, and are believable as sisters. It's obvious early on that Walker is a going to be a "gonner", even without prior knowledge of the storyline. Colbert's husband is also posted as "missing", which must have been a familiar occurrence to a 1944 audience.
Flitting in and out is Joseph Cotton, in a reasonably sympathetic role, and Agnes Moorhead less so. This long film rounds off with an emotional - if not a bit sugary - ending, but its heart was in the right place, and if tears are induced, the film has worked hard to induce them.
This, I suppose, would be considered a "womans' picture", personally, I don't support that category at all. "Since You Went Away" can be enjoyed by anyone, it isn't quite as good as "Best Years", it does manipulate the emotions a bit too much, because of the time it was made. It's a worthwhile picture for anyone willing to invest a couple of hours in 40s nostalgia. David O Selznick never could surpass his "Gone With the Wind", but then, very few films ever have.