Two Thousand Women

Two Thousand Women
Directed by Frank Launder
Produced by Edward Black
Screenplay by Frank Launder
Sidney Gilliat
Michael Pertwee
Starring Phyllis Calvert
Flora Robson
Patricia Roc
Music by Hans May
Distributed by Gainsborough Studios
Ellis Films (US)
Release dates
6 November 1944 (UK)
October 1951 (US)
Running time
UK: 97 min.
US: 81 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office 547,159 admissions (France, 1945)[1]

Two Thousand Women (1944) is a British comedy-drama war film about a camp of interned British women in Occupied France. Three RAF aircrewmen whose bomber had been shot down enter the camp and are hidden by the women from the Germans.

The film was released in the USA in 1951 in a severely cut-down version under the title of House of 1,000 Women. Per the British Film Institute database, this is the second in an "unofficial trilogy" by Launder and Gilliat of Millions Like Us (1943), Two Thousand Women, and Waterloo Road (1945).


An English novice nun (Patricia Roc) is arrested by the French as a fifth columnist during the 1940 Battle of France. While she is imprisoned, the Germans occupy France and she is sent (without her habit) to an internment camp in a grand hotel at a spa. She journeys to the camp with Freda (a journalist played by Phyllis Calvert), Bridie (a stripper played by Jean Kent), Muriel (Flora Robson) and her female companion Miss Meredith (Muriel Aked). At the camp they meet Maud (Renee Houston) and Mrs Burtshaw (Thora Hird).

The women soon settle into a routine that seems to consist of cleaning the corridors and playing cards.

However, during an air raid an RAF bomber is shot down and two RAF (James McKechnie and Reginald Purdell) and one RCAF (Robert Arden) aircrewmen escape from the Germans by entering the hotel. The women hide the airmen and devise a plan for the men to escape during a concert. In the meantime, one of the internees is revealed to be a Nazi spy.



Frank Launder stated later that he "should have treated the subject more seriously...that it would have been a bigger film if I concentrated less on the comedy and more on the drama".[2]

Phyllis Calvert says she was offered the part of the nun who falls in love with a pilot, but turned it down and Pat Roc played it instead. Calvert played Freda Thompson, even though she felt Launder and Gilliat "didn't like me turning down a part they had written for me, which I can understand."[3]

According to Calvert, Renee Houston and Flora Robson "didn't get on at all" during the film.[3]


According to trade papers, the film was a success at the British box office in 1944.[4]

American release

Perhaps due to the success of Three Came Home, the film was released in the USA in 1951 in a severely cut-down version under the title of House of 1,000 Women. The American version of the film available on DVD ignores Patricia Roc's adventures as well as several subplots[5] and starts the film with the transport to the internment hotel.


  1. French box office in 1945 at Box office story
  2. p.72 Babington, Bruce Launder and Gilliat 2002 Manchester University Press
  3. 1 2 Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 111
  4. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p 207
  5. Babington, B. (2002). Launder and Gilliat. Manchester University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780719056680. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
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