The Law of Contact

The Gentle Sex (May 23, 1943)

The Gentle Sex

Released on May 23, 1943: British females, the 'gentle' sex, pampered and thought of as the weaker sex, step up and fill men's shoes during WWII.

Produced by Leslie Howard and Derrick De Marney

Directed by Leslie Howard

The Actors: Joan Gates (Gwen Hayden), Jean Gillie (Dot Hopkins), Joan Greenwood (Betty Miller), Joyce Howard (Anne Lawrence), Rosamund John (Maggie Fraser), Lilli Palmer (Erna Debruski), Barbara Waring (Joan Simpson), John Justin (flying officer David Sheridan), Elliott Mason (Mrs. Fraser), Tony Bazell (Ted), Frederick Leister (Colonel Lawrence), Everley Gregg (Miss Simpson), John Laurie (Scots Corporal), Mary Jerrold (Mrs. Sheridan), Meriel Forbes (Junior Commander Davis), Noreen Craven (Convoy Sergeant), Miles Malleson (guard), Jimmy Hanley (first soldier), Frederick Peisley (second soldier), Ronald Shiner (race spectator), Harry Welchman (Captain Ferrier), Rosalyn Boulter (telephonist), Grace Arnold (bit part), Frank Atkinson (restaurant customer), Claude Bailey (staff officer), Clifford Buckton (bit part), Peter Cotes (Taffy), Amy Dalby (lady behind the bar at the dance), Richard George (Naval officer), Leslie Howard (the narrator), Roland Pertwee (Captain), Johnnie Schofield (Sergeant in dance cafe), Nick Stuart (bit part).


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The Glass Ceiling . . . Women's Rights . . . Equality of the Sexes . . . common phrases in today's lexicon when talking about the place that females take in our society today. We hear about the women of some Muslim countries that are not permitted to learn to read and write, are not permitted to drive a car, and other things that strike us as terribly uncivilized. But it wasn't that long ago when WWII commanded so many of the men that women were needed to step into jobs and careers that before the war no one thought they could either want or do. Until then women were supposedly put on a pedistal, protected, honored and loved for doing the things that working men either didn't have the time for, or were not able to do. On of the phrases that Leslie Howard, the director and narrator uses in this film is, "Men must work, Women must weep."

The time is 1943, Britain is in the midst of the fight of their life, and Leslie Howard is one of the actors that put his talents to work for the war effort with several patriotic war movies. In this one we follow the lives of seven different girls from England, France and Scotland, as they enlist in the Army and learn to drive lorries, fire ack-ack guns and everything else required of them as well as men . . . dare I say even better than men in some cases? As an American, I always enjoy the accents of the actors from England and Scotland, and am fascinated by the different slang words and the way of life in 1940's Britain, and this movie gave me much to enjoy.  I enjoy a bowl of popcorn most evenings, white kernel corn popped in a pot, not a pouch in a microwave. And excellent popcorn is best enjoyed with an excellent movie, and this is an excellent movie. And equality of the sexes? I would love to live in a world where men and women were truly equal, but alas, I have my doubts the we men will ever rise to the level and competency that women have attained since the days of this war drama.