Millions Like Us
Millions Like Us is a 1943 British propaganda film, showing life in a wartime aircraft factory in documentary detail. It starred Patricia Roc, Eric Portman, Megs Jenkins, Gordon Jackson and Anne Crawford, was written and directed by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. According to the British Film Institute database, this film is the first in an "unofficial trilogy", along with Two Thousand Women (1944) and Waterloo Road (1945).
|Millions Like Us|
Italian theatrical poster
|Directed by||Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder|
|Produced by||Edward Black|
|Written by||Sidney Gilliat|
|Music by||Louis Levy|
|Edited by||R.E. Dearing|
|Distributed by||Gainsborough Pictures|
The opening credits show huge crowds of workers going into factories. The narrator begins the film with nostalgic views of crowded beaches and remembering what it was like to eat an orange (unavailable in the war).
Celia Crowson (Roc) and her family go on holiday to the south coast of England in the summer of 1939 staying in the guest house which they come to every year. Soon afterwards the Second World War breaks out and Celia's father (Moore Marriott) joins what was to become the Home Guard and her more confident sister Phyllis (Joy Shelton) joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
Fearing her father's disapproval if she moves away from home, Celia hesitates about joining up but eventually her call-up papers arrive. Hoping to join the WAAF or one of the other services, Celia instead gets posted to a factory making aircraft components, where she meets her co-workers, including her Welsh room-mate Gwen Price (Megs Jenkins) and the vain upper middle class Jennifer Knowles (Anne Crawford). Knowles dislikes the work they have to do at the factory, causing friction with their supervisor Charlie Forbes (Eric Portman) which eventually blossoms into a verbally combative romance.
A nearby RAF bomber station sends some of its men to a staff dance at the factory, during which Celia meets and falls in love with an equally shy young Scottish flight sergeant Fred Blake (Gordon Jackson). Their relationship encounters a crisis when Fred refuses to tell Celia when he is sent out on his first mission, but soon afterwards they meet and make up, with Fred asking Celia to marry him. After the wedding they spend their honeymoon at the same south coast resort as the Crowsons went to in 1939, finding it much changed with minefields and barbed wire defending against the expected German invasion.
Just after returning to the factory, they find furnished rooms nearby to set up house together, but then Fred is killed in a bombing raid over Germany. Celia receives the news while working at the factory and at a mealtime shortly afterwards the band plays Waiting at the Church, without realising it had been played at Celia's wedding reception. About to break down, Celia is comforted by her fellow workers, as bombers from Fred's squadron overfly the factory en route to another raid.
- Patricia Roc – Celia Crowson
- Gordon Jackson – Fred Blake
- Anne Crawford – Jennifer Knowles
- Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne – Charters and Caldicott
- Moore Marriott – Jim Crowson
- Eric Portman – Charlie Forbes
- Joy Shelton – Phyllis Crowson
- John Boxer – Tom
- Valentine Dunn – Elsie
- Megs Jenkins – Gwen Price
- Terry Randall – Annie Earnshaw
- Amy Veness – Mrs. Blythe
- John Salew – Doctor Gill
- Beatrice Varley – Miss Wells
- Bertha Willmott – The Singer
- Irene Handl – Landlady
- Amy Dalby – Mrs Bourne
The film was produced at Gainsborough Studios. Roger Burford had suggested to the producers that they create a film covering the entire British war effort on the homefront. The directors decided the task was too big and that the subject needed a fictional story to tie the material together. The directors originally wanted to call the film 'The Mobile Woman'. The dance hall scene involved real serving soldiers, airmen and firemen.
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is used liberally in the soundtrack.
- Millions Like Us, In: Programme book for Made in London Early Evening Films at the Museum of London (Museum of London and The National Film Archive), 24th season, 1992.
- Brown G. Launder and Gilliat, quoted in Programme book for Made in London Early Evening Films at the Museum of London (Museum of London and The National Film Archive), 24th season, 1992.
- "FILM CABLE FROM LONDON:". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 17 March 1946. p. 13 Supplement: The Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 11 July 2012.