"Strange, Wonderful, Incalculable Creatures"
The Films: The Gentle Sex (1943),
Millions Like Us (1943), Great Day (1945)
IT HAS BECOME ALMOST DOCTRINAL TO POINT OUT THAT MOST HISTORIES of class in Britain assume that the term in fact means "white, male upper/middle/working/etc. class." To some extent this is supportable, but it also remains true that for the most part in this study I have not found it useful or even valid to distinguish between "male (whichever) class" and "female (whichever) class" in terms of the representations and images of the classes themselves. This is simply because the films themselves do not make any such distinctions on gender lines. It is surely possible to discuss any class as including sexes, and assume that the definition of any class includes within it the place and position of women as "typical" of that class. This does not mean that British wartime films were somehow genderless; far from it, they demonstrate the patriarchal structure of British society as well as they demonstrate its class structure. The two are, of course, not distinct or unrelated. For most of the films discussed so far, the main representations of class have been made through the use of male characters, even though there have occasionally been morethan-subsidiary female characters: Shorty Blake's mum, his wife, CPO Lemon's wife and mother-in-law, and of course Kinross's wife, all in In Which We Serve, for example. I have referred to these and others where it seemed appropriate to do so, but the films have been, like it or not, resolutely concerned with men at war.
Several films, the ones analyzed in this chapter, do deal specifically with the conditions of women in Britain during the war and the responses (real, imagined, or desired) of women to those conditions