Social History | 1940 | Sound | B/W
VD, loose women and sexual and moral dilemmas in World War Two !!
A wintry cold day in a market in a London street, people wish to get in, market traders huddle under coats, close-up of feet in puddles. This is probably Berwick Street market, Soho. Rain pours off canopies and a tarpaulins over fruit and vegetables stalls. Rain splashes in puddles. George and Katherine lounge together in a boat on the river in summer. She tells George about the home they are going to have together, romantic plans are made. They plan their wedding and she says in a couple of months but he says this is a lifetime away. He's expressing the mood of the time, that he might not survive the war etc. He finds the date in a newspaper dated 3rd August 1939. They agree on September 3rd for their marriage but that date of course is when war breaks out. The date on the scene is seen to turn upside down and a large Swastika and eagle appear, superimposed on mined buildings, lots of stills of devastation across Europe. George is in the army now. Two soldiers play cards in a dug-out by candle light. The sound of a battle outside. Another soldier comes in while two of them read letters from home, the third suffers from shell shock and fear. One of the soldiers reading a letter is cool as a cucumber even when a blast is very close while another quakes in fear. The 'cool' man explains it is because he has had many years of happy marriage. George, one of the three, not 'cool' or 'quaking' wonders if he'll ever see Katherine again. He says he is waiting for his first leave to get married. George says he misses Kate so much he thinks he'll go crazy. 'Cool' says 'don't worry'. The three go into action. (Looks continuously more like World War One ). A line of men cross no man's land into machine gun fire, point of view, behind the machine gunner. Newspaper headline: 'All Denmark Occupied without Resistance'. More headlines about Nazi's invading Europe. A tank superimposed on the newspaper headline drives through a wall of fire, it's blown up. More battle scenes.
Kate waits near a news-stand looking at her watch, waiting for a train to come in at a railway station. People pass in and out of the platform gates with a poster near 'Ask for Tolly'. George arrives, they kiss near W.H. Smith. They hold each other and he says 'did you miss me?' He says 'we're going to get married right away', he wants to crowd a whole life-time into his leave. But she looks unhappy, he notices she's wearing black. The soldier and his girl enter the buffet in the station. They sit at a table in the corner. Kat's brother Edward was killed and she's just come from the funeral. Edward died in a car crash. Flashback - Kate tries to stop him going out, he shouts 'why can't you leave me alone?' and drives off at speed. She shouts 'be careful in the blackout'. Speeding car at night, the car turns over. She wants to postpone the wedding. He says he's only got a few weeks leave. He pleads with her. He's been alone and wanting her. She says she can't feel like that now. 'Give me a little time'. He says they've got to grab any happiness while they can. She says he has no feelings. He says she's selfish. 'George how dare you?' he says it's now or never. She walks out on him. It's a serious quarrel.
Two cups of tea stand on the table, then two glasses of wine. Two women drink, sitting on bar stools of a cocktail bar, 'goodtime girls'. One is smoking, the other talks about her love affairs, he gives me palpitations!! He never has trouble getting petrol, he knows a place! She hints at her black market dealings. But then, there's Fred as well. The other girl says, 'you've got one of the loving natures'. Girl in the furs says the other has the face and figure but doesn't know how to use them. Think of the fun she's missing. Furs woman says, 'old that old fashioned stuff, petting and kissing, that's as dead as your old Aunt Sally'. She means the real thing. This is strong stuff - she means, in case you missed it , that she has sex ! The other girl wants to wait for the right man. Furs woman says she's old fashioned. George arrives and orders a double whiskey from the barman behind the bar, next to the two women. Furs woman bumps into George who drops his presents to Kate on the floor, deep symbolism !. Frilly undies from Paris. The fact that he has lingerie makes him very desirable to a war time girl. Furs woman starts to flirt with him. The other woman walks off. George and 'Furs' huddle together at the bar. 'Furs' is called Loren. George drinks in her flat saying how he likes it and not being in a dugout.
He walks about and admires the pictures of the very Art deco flat. He lights a cigarette and picks up a book 'Dangerous Liaisons' (Acquaintances) by Choderios De Lacios. He smiles and sits on her sofa. We see her in the room beyond looking at herself in a mirror in her underwear. George can't get Kate out of his mind, he tells her. Then he sees her in lingerie. 'You won't catch cold will you?', Loren says, 'come on soldier'. He's embarrassed but goes into the bedroom. The bedside lamp is turned out. Sexual implication shots, I suppose, a vase of roses dropping its petals. George is now to leave next morning. He looks at the room, bottles empty, clothes on the floor. He starts to tidy up. Loren comes out of the bedroom, he nags her to hurry up. Loren looks for her stockings. She nags him. They bicker at each other. She says his friends bore her to tears. She sits and puts on her stockings. She says his friends are dull and don't really like her. Loren says George was alright for the first couple of weeks and then started finding fault with her. He has got to take her the way he finds her. She brushes her hair looking in the mirror.
The doorbell rings. Electricity company man asks if there's any trouble with the lights, in other words Loren hasn't paid the bill, she's just a goodtime, gold digging girl ! He gave her money for the bills but she forgot, so she says !. It's in her bag. He opens her bag for the money but finds a photograph of another soldier, it's Edward, Kate's brother!! George confronts her. She's a siren, a harpy! She wants Edward's letter back. George reads it, Edward went to clinic and it is not good news. He got VD from Loren and while worried crashed the car. Loren says it's all men's fault for passing the Venereal Disease to her but she's treated now. She's quite safe. George says what a fool I've been and pushes her away. George is at the doctors. He's looking embarrassed. Doctor asks what exactly George wants to see him about? He asks for a complete examination. Complete, does the doctor wonder? Yes, he understands. George waits anxiously outside the doctor's office, waiting for the results of the tests. (The words VD itself has not yet been mentioned). The doctor comes in and says he doesn't have gonorrhoea but it's too early to say about syphilis as it may take two or three months to show. He can't marry until then. He must wait until his next leave. He must see his battalion officer if he has any symptoms before then. Doctor says his behaviour can wreck his health and happiness. Doctor says it isn't easy to wait for marriage but it's worthwhile. Other soldiers have been doing the same, some are married but he doesn't expect his Kate to have these adventures. Lots of sexual morality. Married men expect their wives to behave themselves. Men can't have it both ways. Promiscuous sexual intercourse, he says, brings anxieties. Marriage is often criticised but we have learnt that that is what children need. Parents must love each other and both must love their children for happiness. Conduct with irregular sex habits endangers marriage. Affairs being no real satisfaction, real marriage on the physical, emotional and mental harmony of two people being true happiness. Doctor, who has made this speech, is very old in a stiff winged collar now shakes George's hand and hopes to have good news for him next time. He opens a file. Dates in a calendar change to show three months later. Kate sits at her dressing table doing her hair. The phone rings, she makes a lot of excuses with a busy diary while she can't make a date. George is on the phone. He's coming around now. But Kate laughs, she is happy. Rain falls off an awning and it puddles. Her legs and his in a puddle. He lifts her off the ground. A happy ending after all !
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