Login

Millions Like Us Review

Image for Millions Like Us

With her father Jim in the Home Guard and sister Phyllis in the WAAF, Celia Crowson begins work at an aircraft components factory with some reluctance. But she soon strikes up friendships with colleagues Gwen Price and Jennifer Knowles and new RAF recruit, Fred Blake.

★★★★

No doubt stung by Hollywood's depiction of life on the British home front in Mrs Miniver, Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat concocted this working-class riposte, which emphasised both the crucial importance of communal action to confounding the enemy and the random nature of both service and sacrifice.

There are no heroes here, just ordinary people, of all ages and backgrounds, doing their bit for the war effort - and not always with much conviction or enthusiasm. Anne Crawford's uppity city girl may not like her work at an aircraft components factory miles from the nearest town, but she makes the most of her lot (even though a flirtation with boss Eric Portman rather than a sense of patriotism prompts her to revise her priorities). Similarly, Patricia Roc conquers her disappointment at not being able to follow gregarious sister Joy Shelton into the WAAF. Indeed, such is her commitment to the cause that she even shrugs and joins in a morale-boosting song with her new family of co-workers on realising that she will have plenty of time to mourn her young RAF husband, Gordon Jackson, once the war has been won.  



But Launder and Gilliat don't just concentrate on the emotional aspects of the conflict. They also study the action with the everyday shortages and inconveniences that would have been familiar to audiences across the country, with the shots of barbed wire and landmines along the coast being a particularly sobering reminder of just how flimsy Britain's defenses were and how much life in a traditional place of enjoyment and escapism had changed.  



 That said, there are occasional moments of light relief and the most amusing are provided by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as Charters and Caldicott, whom the co-directors had reunited after their thriller stints in Alfred Hitchcock's  The Lady Vanishes and Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich  (1940), which they had scripted.

Very British drama in all the good ways.

More from Empire