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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women and the War Effort
If you like This Happy Breed and A Canterbury Tale you will enjoy this film, set in the middle years of the Second World War.

Patricia Roc, normally cast in more glamorous roles, plays a shy young London girl called up to do war work, but instead of the more appealing WAAF or WRNS she is assigned to a munitions factory. It might sound a dull subject at first,...
Published on 15 Jan 2009 by Lulu

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Seems like a lovely film, but quality of DVD was very, very poor
The two-star rating refers exclusively to the quality of the DVD. I'm not old enough to have lived during WWII but based on the stories told by my parents, this appeared to be a very authentic account of sacrifices made by all during war times. I particularly enjoyed the ballroom scene, when all of the soldiers paired up with the available ladies to make for a fun...
Published on 12 Aug 2011 by An American in Florence


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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Women and the War Effort, 15 Jan 2009
By 
Lulu (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
If you like This Happy Breed and A Canterbury Tale you will enjoy this film, set in the middle years of the Second World War.

Patricia Roc, normally cast in more glamorous roles, plays a shy young London girl called up to do war work, but instead of the more appealing WAAF or WRNS she is assigned to a munitions factory. It might sound a dull subject at first, but the film is full of fascinating period details and deft touches of comedy as well as the more serious message that everyone had to play a part if Britain was to have any hope of survival.

There is a strong supporting cast of well-known British actors: Megs Jenkins plays a working-class Welsh girl (from a Depressed Area) with a university education, who sees the war as part of an even greater struggle for social progress. Anne Crawford portrays a spoilt débutante who finds the whole thing tiresome and does her best to contribute as little as possible short of actual sabotage, but her attitude begins to change when she becomes attracted to the factory foreman, played by Eric Portman (though not listed on the DVD cover) in his native Yorkshire accent. The heroine meanwhile has met a young Scottish airman, played by Gordon Jackson, and their shy, tentative courtship is one of the most touching aspects of the story.

The film ends on a defiant note. It was made at a time when victory was by no means certain, and the tone reflects that; but the underlying message is of hope and comradeship, and of the value and worth of ordinary people, the Millions Like Us.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So accurate it even surprised Mum, 26 Feb 2007
By 
M. Hall "a Brit" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
A great film, my Mum was a war worker and found the film amazing and really moving, so close to home it brought on a few tears and many smiles of rememberance. We should not forget the work at home in the UK accepting the concept of 'Total War', all citizens, in uniform or out being fully in the fight, this film brings it home, with humour, sadness and reality. A real gem and for those who like modern history an absolute must.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda Worn Lightly, 11 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. J. P. Brown (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
Millions Like Us (1943)

Directed by Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat
Production Company Gainsborough Pictures
Produced by Edward Black
Original Screenplay Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder
Photography Jack Cox, Roy Fogwell

Cast: Patricia Roc (Celia Crowson); John Boxer (Tom Crowson); Gordon Jackson (Fred Blake); Anne Crawford (Jennifer Knowles), but also look for the uncredited Brenda Bruce, Tommy Trinder, Albert Chevalier and Irene Handl.

Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat shared a directing credit for the first time with this film. It was made at the suggestion of the Ministry of Information (MoI), and was at first to have been a documentary. Frank Launder later wrote:

"With this object we toured the country, visiting docks, farms and coastal areas and went to war factories and works all over Britain. We came to the conclusion that the best way to attract a wide public to a subject of this nature, which was what the ministry wanted, was to cloak it in a simple fictional story."

Sidney Gilliat added:

"We were greatly impressed with the fate - if you like to call it that - of the conscripted woman, the mobile woman. And that's what we would have liked to call the thing if it hadn't been such a silly title! The MoI said they greatly liked the script, but it wasn't the extensive documentary they been wanting. However, they strongly recommended Gainsborough to make it with their blessing and co-operation. Ted Black was happy to take it on."

The MoI commissioned the film and then sold it at cost price to Gainsborough.

The film's title reminded viewers that the war would not be won just by the elite (Churchill's "the few"): everyone had a contribution to make, even the elderly - the widowed father of the Crowson family, Jim (Moore Marriott) is wearing a Home Guard uniform (and has to salute his daughter's boyfriend). Celia is posted to an aircraft factory to make insignificant (but, Oh so vital!) components for aircraft. At the time, women were thought to be very anxious about conscription to (among other things) factory work; the interviewer at the Labour Exchange tells Celia:

"There's nothing to be afraid of in a factory. Mr Bevin needs another million women, and I don't think we should disappoint him at a time like this. The men at the front need tanks, guns and planes. You can help your country just as much in an overall as you can in uniform these days."

And, in propaganda terms, this is the main message of the film.

The film opens in the summer of 1939 with the Crowson family, a working class London family, on holiday at a seaside resort on the South Coast. Rumblings of war are heard on the wireless news broadcasts, but are largely ignored. They always stay at the same boarding house and the owner gives them a warm welcome, as she does later to Celia, the younger daughter, when she goes to the same boarding house in a now sadly derelict resort, the sands - once full of holiday makers - now mined, strung with barbed wire and empty.

The main character in the film is Celia and the main part of the action takes place in 1941-42. Her brother Tom is now in the army (the father complains that his sisters never write to him). Her sister Phyllis is a rather flighty young lady - too fond of the men her father thinks. Phyllis decides to join the WAAF (and is later seen mending a truck). When the younger - Celia - gets her call-up papers, her widowed father is in despair - who will look after him? Celia, despite her dread of factory work, is deployed to a factory making parts for aircraft. She is housed in a hostel where she rooms with Gwen (to whom the hostel seems quite luxurious when she remembers her childhood as the daughter of an unemployed Welsh miner.)

At a dance, Celia meets a shy, awkward RAF sergeant, Fred (Gordon Jackson). After knowing each other a short time, Fred Proposes and Celia replies I don't mind (showing not indifference, but proper maidenly reserve.) The anxiety of the audience is raised twice before the final tragedy - once when Celia's father takes an unconscionable time to notice the telegram on the doormat (is it his son who has been killed?) and again when Celia is woken by a phone call from the aerodrome (it is only Freed saying he's back safe.) Fred is, however, killed soon afterwards over Germany and Celia is told of his death at the factory by a padre, in a scene of masterly understatement. Later, at a concert at the factory, she remembers Fred when the singer (Bertha Willmott) sings "There was I, waiting at the church", a song she particularly associates with their courtship. However, when we see the bombers flying overhead it is Beethoven's 5th symphony that we hear.

At the factory a posh girl, Jennifer Knowles (Ann Crawford) disdains the repetitive manual labour to which she is assigned (though it transpires that she's been working in a soup kitchen) and is rebuked often by the supervisor, Charlie Forbes (Eric Portman) for poor output and unsatisfactory quality. However, he shows concern for her when he carries her bodily to an air raid shelter and romance - of a sort - blossoms. She speaks of marriage, saying that she's confident she can make her parents accept him but he replies that he`s not sure he'll be able to accept them. He refers to the class war and says that they will only be able to marry if that ceases after the war. Some critics feel that this is the end of their affair, but surely the door is being held open for a new world to sweep away the class distinctions that have heretofore riven society. What Charlie says to Jennifer is:

"The world's roughly made up of two kinds of people. You're one sort and I'm the other. Oh, we're together now there's a war on, we need to be. But what's going to happen when it's all over? Shall we go on like this or are we going to slide back? That's what I want to know. I'm not marrying you, Jenny, till I'm sure."

Class distinction - and the possibility of it being broken down, is hinted at in a scene where Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Naunton Wayne) , enjoying the luxury of a first-class carriage, have their peace ruined by an influx of evacuee children. The pair appear three times in the film, most memorably as soldiers laying mines on a beach:

Charters: Talking of wartime sacrifices, Caldicott - do you remember old
Parterton?
Caldicott: Chap with all those rubber plantations in Malaya?
Charters: Yes, that's the fellow. Do you remember his valet, Hawkins?
Caldicott: Yes.
Charters: He's evacuated to Weston-super-Mare.
Caldicott: Really?
Charters: Parterton's simply livid. Hasn't dressed himself for 30 years.
Caldicott: What's he going to do about it?
Charters: Follow him. To Weston-super-Mare.
Caldicott: Oh, by the way, how many mines have we laid here this morning?
Charters: Erm... 86. No no, 87.
Caldicott: Sure?
Charters: Positive.
Caldicott: Hmm. We must remember not to bathe here after the war.

Another worker, the working class Welsh graduate, Gwen Price (Megs Jenkins) takes a motherly interest in Celia. Celia assumes she is from a comfortable background because of her education but Gwen disabuses her, saying she's a miner's daughter and referring sardonically to the depression.

The main narrative and the propagandist message are enriched by a number of references to the mundane details of life at the time - picturesque to us, perhaps, but daily realities to those who first went to see the film: an orange is described as a spherical pulpish fruit of reddish-yellow colour for those who hadn't seen one in years, shortages of both luxuries (stockings, oranges) and necessities (drawing pins - for sticking up blackout material) are referred to and there is discussion about how to make the best use of ration coupons. We hear the blare of the air-raid sirens, the discussion about who might be getting it tonight, (and the subsequent relief when it turns out not to be the place where a loved one lives). We see people gamely trying to conduct business from the shells of bomb-damaged buildings. We see children being evacuated and the weary soldiers returning from Dunkirk.

The film is a well-crafted narrative and, without sentimentality, deals with some of the sadder aspects of war. It avoids too jaunty an approach to the hardships of wartime life and looks without flinching at the horrors of aerial bombardment. It wears its propagandist purpose lightly and is bold in its critique of a class system which has so disadvantaged manual workers in the past. Watching this film, one cannot be surprised by the victory of Clement Attlee and the Labour Party in 1945.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So That's What the 1940s Were Like, 2 Jun 2009
This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
This film is a little gem. Despite being a wartime propaganda flick it's surprisingly downbeat: it simply shows the understated heroism of British people putting aside their feelings and getting on with dull, dangerous jobs in uncongenial surroundings --- just as if they were all acting out the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. If that makes it seem dull, it's not. There's no flashy action or vivid drama, but there is a beautifully acted slice of early 1940s life --- Millions Like Them, indeed.

Patricia Roc is the young ingenue sent to work in a factory with a disparate set of other girls --- working class Northerner, London socialite, Welsh university graduate, etc. She finds brief happiness in a touching romance with a pimply Gordon Jackson (sans the Och, Mrs Bridges! accent) playing an RAF Sergeant Gunner. There is an initial episode of a gay (in its old sense) pre-war holiday, as a contrast to the dull routine of the factory; and some social comedy, particularly from Moore Marriott as Patricia Roc's father. But what really makes the film is the glimpse it provides of life on the Home Front in 1943. Some of the details, particularly the dance, or the choreography of the air raids, are truly fascinating. And it all looks true to life, quite unlike the sterile reconstructions of modern day dramas set in the 1940s. My father was wartime RAF and met my mother at a factory dance in 1943, so I find this film especially interesting. Everyone in the picture is shabbily, yet formally dressed: the women in an odd mixture of hand-me-downs, the men in uniform or faded suits. And I suppose this is how it was, although some of the class-conscious dialogue, particularly that between socialite Anne Crawford and bluff Yorkshire factory chargehand Eric Portman is probably as authentic as a modern-day episode of Eastenders.

Quite a few well-known faces appear. Irene Handl pops up in one scene and I would swear that the late Wendy Richards is in another, if she hadn't been about six months old at the time. The only overt propoganda is a short montage of heroic workers busily fashioning raw metal into a new bomber, to the strains of the Eric Coates march Calling All Workers. That apart, it's actually a very entertaining movie. Do see it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There really were millions like us, 21 Jun 2009
By 
Roger C. Rivenell (Darley, VIC. 3340 Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
Propaganda of a kind it may be, but it certainly captured the atmosphere of the period and memories come back in a rush. My parents went to see it at the 'Majestic' in Rochester, as one of mum's sisters was an extra (the dark-haired one) and got to dance over a couple of minutes or so with Eric Portman. I didn't go, as I was only four at the time and I had to wait over 50 years to see it on Australian TV! I'm delighted that it's now available as a DVD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A whole box of hankies film, 7 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a great film. On paper it may seem a bit formulaic - following a few very different girls as they go into factory work to help the war effort, but in real life it's touching, full of pathos and (being a film made during the war) it has a thread of gritty realism to it. And, of course, it qualifies as a 'genuine' war film in that it has Gordon Jackson in it, playing a young airman. First Rule of War Films: must have Gordon Jackson or Bill Owen in it (and at least one Chirpy Cockanee Sparrar).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars treat time, 28 Sep 2010
By 
R. Poole "baby boomer" (london uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
this maybe a wartime propaganda but its a fabulous one,full of wry humour and pathos.at the begining we see a family pre war going out on holiday then as the war takes hold how it affects them and how cicumstances affect them and the people they would never have met otherwise.some nice digs at rationing too.highly recommended
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, 17 May 2014
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
Simply a delightful film of WW2 showing how everyone mucked in in order to achieve victory - loved it - great acting
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4.0 out of 5 stars nostalgia, 17 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
Good movie. one gets to see how it was in those time with many people. This generation shoiul see some of these movies to get an idea how things went at war time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun fact!, 4 Dec 2013
By 
B. Olsen (Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD] (DVD)
This absorbing and absolutely wonderful film features the first hearing what later became known as the 'Dambusters Theme', although uncredited at the time. Interesting to note that 1943, when the film was released, was also the year of the actual Dams Raid. As many knows, the theme made a second appearance in the 1955 film 'The Dam Busters' and deservedly became a much loved, stirring piece of music. But music apart, 'Millions Like Us' is just one of those films you can watch over and over again.
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Millions Like Us [1943] [DVD]
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