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During the War seven women from very different backgrounds find themselves together in the Auxiliary Territorial Services. They are soon drilling, driving lorries, and manning ack-ack batteries. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The locomotive pulling the carriages from the Southern Railway London terminus where the women board, is a different class locomotive seen later in the film prior to their arrival at the Army base. See more »
Previous reviewers have commented on lack of character development and lack of action. While there is some truth in both assertions, I think we do have to look at the essential purpose of the film, which is to show seven very different young women (though these ones do tend to be above average in looks) being turned into soldiers.
An army in wartime is a great mincing machine, taking individuals from all walks of life in at one end and turning them out at the other as soldiers. By definition, they are then no longer individuals but a member of a team that has been trained to achieve objectives jointly. The common experience of first training together and then learning to do the jobs they are assigned means that not only do the young women in the film mature fast as people but also they cohere as soldiers. Loyalty to their mates and their unit overrides personal needs, with their own strengths and weaknesses evened out in the common effort. For example, Barbara Waring has no particular feelings about the Germans, seeing them merely as efficient, but Erna Debruski (who is probably meant to be not French but Czech) has seen their lethal efficiency at work in her country and is driven by violent hatred.
Of the tasks soldiers have to do, some are everyday and boring while others are unique and exciting. We see two young men doing very dangerous work, one a fighter pilot and one a commando, but our seven girls end up driving lorries and manning anti-aircraft guns. Even so, they are all put to the test. The lorry girls have to drive through the night to get their trucks aboard a ship sailing to the front, possibly North Africa, and then have to rush fresh ammunition to the anti- aircraft battery during a raid. There the AA girls bring an attacking bomber down in flames.
From the seven young strangers who shared a railway compartment at the start to the trained and dedicated women who are doing demanding, even hazardous, jobs to protect their country, surely there has been huge character development and surely there has been action?
PS As for that music hall sketch, should we judge it by professional standards? Isn't it meant to be an amateur, who has volunteered to amuse her chums?
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