Before I go on and on about what an amazingly brilliant film 2,000 Women (1944) is (and I am going to do that, I promise), let me start by celebrating its availability on DVD. You really can buy it both in the US and UK! I’ll provide the links for you at the bottom of this post. I feel like such a creep when I recommend a film and get everyone all excited about seeing it, only to break the bad news that it’s not on DVD. Although, I don’t want to stop reviewing films that are not on DVD, since the interest we create in them with our blogs could very possibly push them down the DVD road. Anyway, on to the review!
2,000 Women is a British made film starring Phyllis Calvert, Flora Robson and Patricia Roc, to name a few. It tells the story of 2,000 British women who were interned in a French hotel by the Nazis during World War II. The film focuses on a small tight knit group of women who are friends because they each have a highly determined personality. Patricia Roc (sitting on the desk above, with the wireless transmitter to her ear) is the main character: a quiet, soft spoken girl named Rosemary Brown. Phyllis Calvert (far left, sitting on the bed with a white shirt) is Freda Thompson, a strong, smart sophisticated woman. Flora Robson (on the floor, listening to the wireless with her back to the camera) is Muriel Manningford, an old style English society woman who takes no guff off the Nazis. There are many, many more women in the film but it would take ages to list them all and do them justice.
Rosemary and Freda become fast friends in the beginning of the film and end up sharing a room. The film follows them as they get settled in, learn the ways of the hotel and meet the other inmates. Amazingly, all the women in the film have incredible hair throughout it, which is a little hard to comprehend, since they had no access to a beauty salon. The clothes are superb, too. Lots of slim slacks and collared shirts. And, in the final scene, all the gals have amazing evening dresses (particularly Phyllis Calvert).
The drama of this film is brought in by a group of RAF fliers who bail out of their plane in the vicinity of the hotel. The men find their way to the hotel, barging in on several of the women in the middle of the night. Our lady patriots band together to protect the fliers and try to help them escape. It’s not an easy task, being that no one knows who to trust and the Nazis lurk around every corner. There are several surprising plot twists when the ladies find out who their friends really are. The pilot of the doomed plane, Jimmy Moore, splendidly played by James McKechnie, is the love interest of Patricia Roc’s character Rosemary. I’m an awful sucker for love stories, and this one is touching, believable and a joy to watch.
You may be wondering how I managed to see this lovely film. It played on TCM on September 15, last year in the middle of the night… Yeah, I just resurrected it. It sat in my homemade VHS collection for that long. It’s shameful, I know.
Okay, if you’d like to see this British gem for yourself, you’ve got two options:
The Movies Unlimited version is now on sale for 9 bucks! (House of 1000 Women is the US title)
The Amazon.co.uk version can be bought new or used. I did check Netflix, and can’t find it listed there. Although, you Netflix gurus may be able to find it. I hope so!
I came across some terrific links while looking for photos for this post, so I’ll share them with you:
– A wonderful Patricia Roc fan site, complete with loads of lovely photos.
(There’s an Alastair Sim poll on the main page, for all his fans out there. Kate – this means you. :) )
I highly recommend this film. It’s fun, interesting, romantic, suspenseful and just plain enjoyable. As my old pal Bobby Osborne said, it’s patriotic propaganda. The patriotic propaganda films of the 40’s are some of the best films of that era. 2,000 Women is no exception.
**1/9/13 Edit – 2000 Women is now available on Netflix streaming! Thanks so much Ivan for pointing it out.**