The Weaker Sex

The Weaker Sex is a 1948 British drama film directed by Roy Ward Baker and starring Ursula Jeans, Cecil Parker and Joan Hopkins.[1]

The Weaker Sex
"The Weaker Sex" (1948).jpg
Original film poster
Directed byRoy Ward Baker
Produced byPaul Soskin
Written byEsther McCracken
Paul Soskin
Val Valentine (additional scenes)
Based onthe play No Medals by Esther McCracken
StarringUrsula Jeans
Cecil Parker
Joan Hopkins
Music byArthur Wilkinson
CinematographyErwin Hillier
Edited byMichael C. Chorlton
Joseph Sterling
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
22 September 1948
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

It was one of the most popular films at the British box office in 1948.[2] The film's subject was what The New York Times described as the "heroics of that valiant legion of women who stood, but did not wait, through the long war years and the now dreary post war years." [3]


Set near Portsmouth, one of the main bases for the D-Day invasion fleet, the film portrays life on the British home front during World War II.

During the run up to D-Day, widowed Martha Dacre (Ursula Jeans) tries to keep house and home together for her two daughters and two naval servicemen billeted on her. Although her two daughters serve as Wrens, and her son is away in the Navy, she has chosen to stay at home as a housewife (although she also participates in fire-watching and works in a canteen). When she learns that her son's ship was damaged during the landings, she experiences regrets about not taking a more active role in the war.

Using occasional footage of actual events and with frequent reference to contemporary newspaper and wireless reports, the story moves forward from D-Day to VE-Day, the 1945 general election and on to 1948 when the film was made. Martha eventually re-marries to naval officer Geoffrey (Cecil Parker) who was one of the men billeted on her and has by now become a father-figure to her son and daughters.



The film was shot at Denham Studios with location shooting taking place in Margate, Portchester Castle and the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. The film's sets were designed by the art director Alex Vetchinsky. It was adapted by Esther McCracken from her own 1944 play No Medals, with additional material added to continue the story until the present day in 1948.

Box OfficeEdit

The film was popular at the British box office.[4] According to Kinematograph Weekly the 'biggest winner' at the box office in 1948 Britain was The Best Years of Our Lives" with Spring in Park Lane being the best British film and "runners up" being It Always Rains on Sunday, My Brother Jonathan, Road to Rio, Miranda, An Ideal Husband, Naked City, The Red Shoes, Green Dolphin Street, Forever Amber, Life with Father, The Weaker Sex, Oliver Twist, The Fallen Idol and The Winslow Boy.[5]

Critical receptionEdit

Critical reception was lukewarm, but the film had some defenders.[6] A critic for The News of the World wrote, "I see that according to my fellow critics The Weaker Sex ... is riddled with faults. Therefore I ask your indulgence for being incapable of detailing these grave weaknesses. I must have missed them because I was enjoying myself so much".[6]

The New York Times wrote, "a thoroughly professional cast and an adult script make the drama genuine and trenchant. Ursula Jeans is excellent as the beleaguered mother who minimizes her work and sacrifices by remarking "one is given no choice — just a little extra strength from somewhere." Cecil Parker is equally adept in his restrained portrayal of the commander she eventually marries. The wonderful Thora Hird contributes a superbly droll bit as a Yorkshire servant and Joan Hopkins, Lana Morris, Digby Wolfe, Derek Bond and John Stone add solid characterizations as the children and sons-in-law" ;[7] and Sky Movies wrote, "the best reviews of the period were saved for Thora Hird as Mrs Gage [sic], the 'daily' with a dry sense of humour", and concluded, "good, solid drama told convincingly – if a trifle over-sentimental today."[8]


  1. ^ "The Weaker Sex". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  2. ^ "THE STARRY WAY". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 8 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Movie Review – The Weaker Sex – A British Import at Little Carnegie –".
  4. ^ Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 258.
  5. ^ Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 232.
  6. ^ a b Mayer, Geoff (2004). Roy Ward Baker. Manchester University Press. p. 20.
  7. ^ "Movie Review – The Weaker Sex – A British Import at Little Carnegie –".
  8. ^ "The Weaker Sex". Find and Watch.


  • Murphy, Robert. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48. Routledge, 2003.

External linksEdit