The Gentle Sex (1943)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 15, 1943 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

The Gentle Sex is a gentle movie, despite its being a wartime propaganda film. That gentleness ultimately works somewhat against its effectiveness as drama, but it does give it a special tone that will greatly appeal to some people. And many will find its value as a social document, discussing the role of women in Britain during World War II, sufficient to off-set its dramatic shortcomings. That said, however, there will also be many who find it simply dull, and they have a point. For one thing, the film follows seven different women -- too many for it to be able to really delve deeply into their characters, with the result that they end up more as types than real people. And while there are a number of stirring speeches, there's not a lot in the way of incident, let along action, in the plot; we follow these women in the course of their activities, but there's little of dramatic interest in what they do. However, for those willing to accept these limitations, Gentle's warmth, humanity and view of a different time and lifestyle will be more than enough to win them over. Plus, Gentle has a fine cast; standout performances are by Lilli Palmer and Rosamund John, but everybody does well, and it's a treat to see a very young Joan Greenwood here. If Leslie Howard's direction is a bit tame, his voiceover narration helps to make up for that.