Two Thousand Women

Last updated

Two Thousand Women
Two Thousand Women VideoCover.png
Directed by Frank Launder
Screenplay byFrank Launder
add dialogue
Michael Pertwee
Produced by Edward Black
Maurice Ostrer
Starring Phyllis Calvert
Flora Robson
Patricia Roc
Renée Houston
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited by R. E. Dearing
Music by Hans May
Distributed by Gainsborough Studios
Ellis Films (US)
Release dates
6 November 1944 (UK)
October 1951 (US)
Running time
97 min. (UK)
81 min. (US)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office547,159 admissions (France, 1945) [1]

Two Thousand Women is a 1944 British comedy-drama war film about a German internment camp in Occupied France which holds British women who have been resident in the country. Three RAF aircrewmen, whose bomber has been shot down, enter the camp and are hidden by the women from the Germans.


The film was released in the United States in 1951 in a severely cut-down version under the title of House of 1,000 Women. Per the British Film Institute database, this is the second in an "unofficial trilogy" by Launder and Gilliat, along with Millions Like Us (1943) and Waterloo Road (1945).


During the 1940 Battle of France, Rosemary Brown (Patricia Roc), an English novice nun, is apprehended by French soldiers who have mistaken her for a fifth columnist. She is sentenced to face a firing squad, but the Germans arrive and she is sent (without her habit, which is being cleaned) to an internment camp in a grand hotel at the spa town of Marneville. She journeys there in the back of a lorry with journalist Freda (Phyllis Calvert), stripper Bridie (Jean Kent), and posh Muriel (Flora Robson) and her travelling companion, Miss Meredith (Muriel Aked). At the camp, they meet Maud (Renée Houston), Margaret (Anne Crawford), Nellie (Dulcie Gray), Mrs Burtshaw (Thora Hird) and Teresa King (Betty Jardine). While two women are allocated to each room, Bridie uses her charms with Sergeant Hentzner (Carl Jaffe) to obtain a room to herself. Although the hotel is very luxurious, not all the baths have a water supply. The hotel proprietor, Monsieur Boper (Guy Le Feuvre), is believed to be collaborating with the Germans.

The women receive a radio from an unknown source, but it is swiftly confiscated by the Germans. The women conclude that they have a stool pigeon, nicknamed "Poison Ivy", amongst the dozen who knew about the radio. Nellie reports that she saw the German file on Rosemary; the charge of being a fifth columnist causes suspicion to fall on her. However, Freda and Maud do not believe it. They warn Rosemary, who reveals she is a nun.

Freda deliberately violates the blackout during a night-time air raid by the RAF. One plane crashes nearby after its crew bail out. Pilot Officer Jimmy Moore (James McKechnie), Sergeant Alec Harvey (Reginald Purdell) and Dave Kennedy (Robert Arden) seek refuge in the hotel. The women hide them, but have to conceal the fact from Teresa King, who is revealed to be a Nazi spy. Later, Alec recognises Rosemary as Mary Maugham, a singer whose boyfriend murdered his wife; she became a nun as a result. Jimmy and Rosemary begin to fall for each other, as do Dave and Bridie. Hentzner finds Dave, who manages to strangle him quietly, and his body is hidden.

The women devise a plan to enable the men to escape during a concert they will put on. To ensure the Germans stay until the end, Freda persuades Bridie to perform her act last. However, when Bridie overhears what Dave thinks of her (due to her fraternisation with the Germans), she slips Teresa a note betraying all. Freda makes Dave write an apology professing his love, which she delivers to Bridie. Bridie then goes to Teresa's room and sees that she has already read the note. The two women fight. Teresa wins and alerts Frau Holweg, but Maud knocks Holweg out. However, Teresa sees the airmen escaping and warns the commandant, but it is too late. The trio escape, with the aid of Monsieur Boper, who is not a collaborator after all. The women defiantly sing "There'll Always Be an England". [2]



Frank Launder stated later that he "should have treated the subject more seriously...that it would have been a bigger film if I concentrated less on the comedy and more on the drama". [3]

Phyllis Calvert said she was offered the part of the nun who falls in love with a pilot, but turned it down and Patricia Roc played it instead. Calvert played Freda Thompson, even though she felt Launder and Gilliat "didn't like me turning down a part they had written for me, which I can understand". [4] According to Calvert, Renée Houston and Flora Robson "didn't get on at all" while the film was being made. [4]


According to trade papers, the film was a success at the British box office in 1944. [5]

American release

Perhaps because of the success of Three Came Home , the film was released in the USA in 1951 in a severely cut version under the title of House of 1,000 Women. The American version of the film available on DVD ignores Patricia Roc's adventures as well as several subplots and starts the film with the transport to the internment hotel. [6]

Related Research Articles

<i>Two English Girls</i> 1971 French film

Two English Girls, is a 1971 French romantic drama film directed by François Truffaut and adapted from a 1956 novel of the same name by Henri-Pierre Roché. It stars Jean-Pierre Léaud as Claude, Kika Markham as Anne, and Stacey Tendeter as Muriel. Truffaut restored 20 minutes of footage, which fills out the characters, before his death in 1984.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phyllis Calvert</span> British film actress (1915–2002)

Phyllis Hannah Murray-Hill, known professionally as Phyllis Calvert, was an English film, stage and television actress. She was one of the leading stars of the Gainsborough melodramas of the 1940s such as The Man in Grey (1943) and was one of the most popular movie stars in Britain in the 1940s. She continued her acting career for another 50 years.

<i>The Happiest Days of Your Life</i> (film) 1950 film by Frank Launder

The Happiest Days of Your Life is a 1950 British comedy film directed by Frank Launder, based on the 1947 play of the same name by John Dighton. The two men also wrote the screenplay. It is one of a stable of classic British film comedies produced by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat for British Lion Film Corporation. The film was made on location in Liss and at Riverside Studios, London. In several respects, including some common casting, it was a precursor of the St. Trinian's films of the 1950s and 1960s.

Patricia Collinge Irish-American actress and writer

Eileen Cecilia "Patricia" Collinge was an Irish-American actress and writer. She was best known for her stage appearances, as well as her roles in the films The Little Foxes (1941) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943). She was nominated for an Academy Award and won a NBR Award for The Little Foxes.

Therell Always Be an England By Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

"There'll Always Be an England" is an English patriotic song, written and distributed in the summer of 1939, which became highly popular following the outbreak of the Second World War. It was composed and written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles. A popular version was sung by Vera Lynn.

<i>The Lady Vanishes</i> 1938 film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, the film is about a beautiful English tourist travelling by train in continental Europe who discovers that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is helped by a young musicologist, the two proceeding to search the train for clues to the old lady's disappearance.

<i>The Lady Vanishes</i> (1979 film) 1979 film by Anthony Page

The Lady Vanishes is a 1979 British comedy mystery film directed by Anthony Page. Its screenplay by George Axelrod was based on the screenplay of 1938's The Lady Vanishes by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, which in turn was based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. It stars Elliott Gould as Robert, Cybill Shepherd as Amanda (Iris), Angela Lansbury as Miss Froy, Herbert Lom, and Arthur Lowe and Ian Carmichael as Charters and Caldicott.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Freda Jackson</span> English actress

Freda Maud Jackson was an English stage actress who also worked in film and television.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tracy Bond</span> Fictional character

Teresa "Tracy" Bond is a fictional character and the main Bond girl in the 1963 James Bond novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and its 1969 film adaptation. She is the second Bond girl to marry 007, the first being in You Only Live Twice as an undercover ploy. In the film version, Tracy is played by actress Diana Rigg.

<i>Millions Like Us</i> 1943 film

Millions Like Us is a 1943 British propaganda film, showing life in a wartime aircraft factory in documentary detail. It starred Patricia Roc, Gordon Jackson, Anne Crawford, Eric Portman and Megs Jenkins. It was co-written and co-directed by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. According to the British Film Institute database, this film is the first in an "unofficial trilogy", along with Two Thousand Women (1944) and Waterloo Road (1945).

<i>Madonna of the Seven Moons</i> 1945 British film

Madonna of the Seven Moons is a 1945 British drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger and Patricia Roc. The film was produced by Rubeigh James Minney, with cinematography from Jack Cox and screenplay by Roland Pertwee. It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas.

<i>The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan</i> 1953 film by Sidney Gilliat

The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan is a 1953 British musical drama film dramatisation of the collaboration between Gilbert and Sullivan. Librettist W. S. Gilbert and composer Arthur Sullivan, portrayed by Robert Morley and Maurice Evans, co-wrote fourteen extraordinarily successful comic operas, later referred to as the Savoy Operas, which continue to be popular today.

<i>I See a Dark Stranger</i> 1946 British film

I See a Dark Stranger – released as The Adventuress in the United States – is a 1946 British World War II spy film with touches of light comedy, by the team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and starring Deborah Kerr and Trevor Howard.

Patricia Roc British actress

Patricia Roc was an English film actress, popular in the Gainsborough melodramas such as Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and The Wicked Lady (1945), though she only made one film in Hollywood, Canyon Passage (1946). She also appeared in Millions Like Us (1943), Jassy (1945), The Brothers (1947) and When the Bough Breaks (1947).

The Gainsborough melodramas were a sequence of films produced by the British film studio Gainsborough Pictures between 1943 and 1947 which conformed to a melodramatic style. The melodramas were not a film series but an unrelated sequence of films which had similar themes that were usually developed by the same film crew and frequently recurring actors who played similar characters in each. They were mostly based on popular books by female novelists and they encompassed costume, such as The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945) and modern-dress, such as Love Story (1944) and They Were Sisters (1945) settings. The popularity of the films with audiences peaked mid-1940s when most of the cinema audiences consisted of mainly women. The influence of the films led to other British producers releasing similarly themed works, such as The Seventh Veil (1945), Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945), Hungry Hill (1947), The White Unicorn (1947), Idol of Paris (1948), and The Reluctant Widow (1950) and often with the talent that made Gainsborough melodramas successful.

<i>The Constant Husband</i> 1955 film by Sidney Gilliat

The Constant Husband is a 1955 British comedy film, directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Rex Harrison, Margaret Leighton, Kay Kendall, Cecil Parker, George Cole and Raymond Huntley. The story was written by Gilliat together with Val Valentine, and the film was produced by Individual Pictures, Gilliat's and Frank Launder's joint production company. Because the film got caught up in the 1954 bankruptcy of British Lion Film Corporation, it was not released until more than seven months after it had been finished and reviewed by the British Board of Film Censors.

<i>Endless Night</i> (1972 film) 1972 film by Sidney Gilliat

Endless Night is a 1972 British horror-mystery film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Hayley Mills, Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson, Hywel Bennett, and George Sanders. Based on the 1967 novel Endless Night by Agatha Christie, the plot follows a newlywed couple who feel threatened after building their dream home on cursed land.

Patricia Hilliard, born Patricia Maud Penn-Gaskell, was a British stage and film actress.

The Girl Who Forgot is a 1940 British comedy film directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Elizabeth Allan, Ralph Michael and Enid Stamp-Taylor.

Rosemary Gilliat was an English photojournalist who traveled across Canada, documenting people and events for publications such as Weekend magazine and the National Film Board of Canada.


  1. French box office in 1945 at Box office story
  2. Babington, Bruce (2013). Launder and Gilliat (British Film Makers). Manchester University Press. p. 66. ISBN   978-07-19056-68-0.
  3. Babington, p. 72.
  4. 1 2 MacFarlane, Brian (1997). An Autobiography of British Cinema. London: Methuen. p. 111. ISBN   978-04-13705-20-4.
  5. Murphy, Robert (2003). Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939–48. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 207. ISBN   978-04-15076-84-5.
  6. Babington, p. 9.