Sally Sallies Forth [film]

A scene from Sally Sallies Forth
Mrs Bond-Regent, the lady of the house, arty Miss CH Elsea, and
Mrs Bond-Regent's daughter, plus an over-emotional Sally.

Here’s a novelty for you: what’s thought to be the first all-female British film, made in London in 1928. From director to cast, every person involved in making this amateur silent was female. (The director and scriptwriter, Frances Lascot, also plays the chauffeuse.) It was broadcast on Talking Pictures in October, so I tivoed it to watch when work deadlines permitted. 

The plot’s simple enough: Sally is sent out by her laundress mother to deliver a parcel of clean washing. She passes a big house where the maid has just left, and the lady of the house and her daughter (who’s throwing a garden party) persuade Sally to fill in. The guests are all ‘characters’, from arty Miss CH Elsea to Flossie Footlight the vampy actress and pipe-smoking Claudia Woodby-Mannish. They all try to get Sally interested and involved with whatever it is they do, and Sally fails miserably at everything.

Two characters from Sally Sallies Forth
Claudia Woodby-Mannish rolls a cigarette while
talking to Miss Bond-Regent.

I didn’t find it a particularly entertaining film on the whole. I felt quite sorry for poor Sally, who clearly wasn’t cut out to be a maid and made that point several times, yet was stuck serving tea to a bunch of wealthy women nonetheless. Had she dropped the teapot in someone’s lap and then legged it, I wouldn’t have blamed her. 

Nonetheless I watched the whole thing, because it was interesting to see what ‘types’ women in the 1920s thought were worth parodying, and also what costumes they put on each one. Flossie Footlight, for example, wore dark lace (I couldn’t guess if it was black or another dark colour) with drapy cuffs, while lyre-playing Angela Scales’ dress was, while completely 1920s, pale and had a slight draped look, possibly hinting at a Greek chiton. Claudia Woodby-Mannish wore a tweed skirt and fair isle jumper. Sally, of course, wore a maid's uniform, albeit in a very untidy fashion. The hats were also interesting, folded in a way hinting at an artist's beret for Miss CH Elsea, a gauzy, brimmed number for Flossie, and a very sensible, no-frills beret for Claudia.

Flossie Footlight arrives.
Flossie Footlight arrives.

If you'd like to see this little curiosity for yourself – it's less than half an hour long – you can watch Sally Sallies Forth on the East Anglian Film Archive website.


  1. I'm not surprised the stereotypes from 100 years ago can be recognised-that stuff is hard to dislodge from the public mind. It is nice though, that the films are made available for viewing.

  2. That's cool that you were able to catch this vintage film! I love examining the clothes in older movies, even if the movies themselves aren't that great.


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