The Weaker Sex

The Weaker Sex is a 1948 British drama film directed by Roy Ward Baker and starring Ursula Jeans, Cecil Parker and Joan Hopkins.[1]

The Weaker Sex
Original film poster
Directed byRoy Ward Baker
Produced byPaul Soskin
Written byEsther McCracken
Paul Soskin
Val Valentine (additional scenes)
Based onthe play No Medals by Esther McCracken
StarringUrsula Jeans
Cecil Parker
Joan Hopkins
Music byArthur Wilkinson
CinematographyErwin Hillier
Edited byMichael C. Chorlton
Joseph Sterling
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
22 September 1948
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

It was one of the most popular films at the British box office in 1948.[2] The film's subject was what The New York Times described as the "heroics of that valiant legion of women who stood, but did not wait, through the long war years and the now dreary post war years." [3]


Set near Portsmouth, one of the main bases for the D-Day invasion fleet, the film portrays life on the British home front during World War II. During the run up to D-Day, widowed Martha Dacre (Ursula Jeans) tries to keep house and home together for her two serving daughters and servicemen billeted on her. While her son is away in the Navy, she has chosen to stay at home as a housewife, but when she learns that his ship has been damaged during the landings, she experiences regrets about not taking a more active role in the war.

Using occasional footage of actual events and with frequent reference to contemporary newspaper and wireless reports, the story moves forward from D-Day to VE-Day, the 1945 general election and on to 1948 when the film was made. Martha eventually re-marries to naval officer Geoffrey (Cecil Parker) who was one of those billeted on her and has become a father-figure to her son and daughters.



The film was shot at Denham Studios with location shooting taking place in Margate, Portchester Castle and the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. The film's sets were designed by the art director Alex Vetchinsky. It was adapted by Esther McCracken from her own 1944 play No Medals, with additional material added to continue the story until the present day in 1948.

Box Office

The film was popular at the British box office.[4]

Critical reception

The New York Times wrote, "a thoroughly professional cast and an adult script make the drama genuine and trenchant. Ursula Jeans is excellent as the beleaguered mother who minimizes her work and sacrifices by remarking "one is given no choice — just a little extra strength from somewhere." Cecil Parker is equally adept in his restrained portrayal of the commander she eventually marries. The wonderful Thora Hird contributes a superbly droll bit as a Yorkshire servant and Joan Hopkins, Lana Morris, Digby Wolfe, Derek Bond and John Stone add solid characterizations as the children and sons-in-law" ;[5] and Sky Movies wrote, "the best reviews of the period were saved for Thora Hird as Mrs Gage [sic], the 'daily' with a dry sense of humour", and concluded, "good, solid drama told convincingly – if a trifle over-sentimental today."[6]



  • Murphy, Robert. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48. Routledge, 2003.
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