Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lesser-Known WWII Films #1

I love obscure British films about the war:

1) Millions Like Us (1943) was filmed in the middle of the war and focuses on the changes the war brought to the average family.  In particular it shows women joining the workforce and the breakdown of class distinctions. Millions Like Us is filmed with gritty realism, yet manages to be quite charming.  Worth a look if you are interested in life on the homefront.

2) Carve Her Name With Pride (1958) tells the story of Violette, a young widow, who is recruited to join the SOE (Special Operations Executive) during World War II.  She teams up with fellow spy Tony Fraser to work with the French underground. This movie is more realistic than happy, but its grittiness was understated enough for someone as squeamish as I am.  The filming and acting are top notch. 

3) A Town Like Alice (1956) takes place in Kuala Lumpur in 1942. Jean Paget and her female colleagues have been captured by the Japanese. The women are marched from city to city but no prison camp will take them in. They eventually settle down in a Malay village until the end of the war. The film is based on the Nevil Shute novel and stars Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch. Their romance is an integral part of the story, but, thankfully, doesn’t take up too much screen time. This is an excellent film for the squeamish.  Plenty of tension and suspense without the gore.

4) Pimpernel Smith (1941) This lesser known World War II film is a treat for lovers of British literature as well as British movies.  It was written and produced by Leslie Howard who also had the leading role. He was the Scarlet Pimpernel in the 1934 film, but here, instead of saving French aristocrats from the guillotine, he saves men and women from the Nazis. Although a low-budget production (the Germans have British accents!), the script and acting are above average.  The references to Lewis Carroll and Shakespeare are fun and the dialogue is intelligent and witty.

Note: I watched some of these on Netflix and some on YouTube.

More obscure war movies are reviewed here and here.


Annie Kate said...

Oh, thank you so much for this list!

Is the spy story very frightening? We've been reading about WW2 spies, but I'm not sure I dare watch a movie about them. The Pimpernel and the Homefront ones look great!

Thanks again.

hopeinbrazil said...

Annie Kate, the spy movie is not too frightening. But it is tense and the ending is not happy.