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Summary: British fictionalised propaganda drama on the need for women to accept separation from, and loss of, their husbands, 1918 (?).
Description: (Reel 1) A working class back street slum, with the men at war and the women largely unable to cope with growing children. Lizzie has a small baby that her husband Jim, a corporal serving in France, has never seen. From time to time the newsboy or a telegram will tell a neighbour her husband is dead. Lizzie is in despair. A neighbour calls and Lizzie reads her husband's last letter telling of German brutality and how he would willingly die to punish them. The vicar calls with clothes for Lizzie to mend for a living, telling her Jim is doing his duty. She replies that "he might have dodged it. Plenty have!..It isn't fair to us women". After the vicar leaves a letter arrives that Jim is missing presumed dead. Lizzie swoons and the neighbour, unable to console her, leaves. Lizzie falls asleep. (Reel 2) Lizzie dreams that her husband has returned, but is furtive and aggressive. He tells her he has deserted, outlining how he stole a blank leave pass and returned to England under a false name, leaving his comrades. She is horrified, "I'd sooner you were dead than a deserter". He tells her he's going north to look for work under an assumed name and she can join him later. Meanwhile as she dreams her husband has genuinely returned and wakes her. He explains that he has been given leave. "Me desert? Not likely! We're out to finish this job." He tells her that the telegram announcing his death is probably to mislead the Germans as to British casualties, "a trick to make the Germans overconfident - thinking I'm done for". They embrace and he cuddles the baby as the film irises out and ends.
Production Details: Film Producers' Guild (Production company)
Livesey, Sam (Production cast)
Forbes, Mary (Production cast)
Personalities, Units and Organisations:
Keywords: propaganda, British - inspirational (object name)
society, British - domestic: [+] (object name)
GB, England (geography)
class & [+] (concept)
Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W
Sound format: Silent
Soundtrack language: None
Title language: English
Subtitle language: English
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 2
Footage: 1645 ft; Running time: 28 mins
Notes: Date: at one point in the film the husband refers to "Hindenburg... building a new line". Taken at its face value, this would suggest a date after the breaking of the Hindenburg Line in September and October 1918. If the film was made after that date it is possible it was never released
Production: the name of the production company is not certain, it is not known if this film had official sponsorship or was ever released in this form
Remarks: it is to be hoped for the reputations of the British propaganda agencies that they had nothing to do with this film. In itself it is, in acting style and tone, firmly in the tradition of late nineteenth and early twentieth century melodrama. The street scenes have considerable social realism compared to the unrealistically spacious and luxurious interior. But how anyone could have been so irresponsible as to suggest that a 'missing believed killed' telegram could be not even an honest mistake but a deliberate government deception staggers belief. How much false hope and needless suffering this film caused if it was ever released can only be guessed at