This Happy Breed (1944)
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Critic Reviews for This Happy Breed
This Happy Breed is Noel Coward's proud and loving tribute to the unbreakable British backbone.
Though Lean and Coward are less happy here than in the brittle, refined atmosphere of Brief Encounter, their adventurous excursion into suburban Clapham remains endlessly fascinating.
While not exacty up to contemporary standards of social realism this domestic saga was ground-breaking in its day and still captivates.
It's quite the study in domesticity and acceptance, and it even presents socialist activism and union strikes as some sort of idealistic fling...
This Happy Breed ranks with 1949's One Woman's Story and 1950's Madeleine as the most obscure title in David Lean's canon. That's a shame, because it's a wonderful motion picture.
not a particularly deep film, but it gets the details of human interaction and growth just right, providing a moving portrait of one family's durability in the midst of massive historical upheaval
If it doesn't bore you to death with its contrived melodramatics then maybe its decorative historical background might catch your interest.
This is an immensely charming movie, with many tears and many moments of warmth.
A toff propagandist's England, of course. But once you've got over its peculiar patrician tones and bitty structure, there's much to enjoy.
Audience Reviews for This Happy Breed
The film is really about the evolution of a country between times of war, set against a families own personal ups and downs. The most dramatic events happen off screen. All deaths happen either off screen and many between different time periods, as do marriages and other "main" events other films would exploit. It captures the constant momentum of life in a very slow and thoughtful manner. Lean and Coward once again make a brilliant team with Lean's direction being the most ingenious counterpart to Coward's words. It sometimes feels not adapted enough from its stage play origins, and sometimes feels a bit too patriotic though it certainly offers up different views from different characters. It shows the constant worries of parents in a supposedly less dangerous time. It works as a very English drama and is powerful in that repressed kind of way. Lean's first use of colour is a triumph and there are some amazingly beautiful moments that will be forever eclipsed by his more obvious epics. The parents wondering back into a room in silence at some tragic news is wonderful cinema.More
Its predictable, but that may be the result of the fact that this kind of decade sprawling melodrama is a lot more common nowadays. You can see the seeds of the type of visual brilliance that David Lean was known for pop up occasionally here and there and Cowards dialogue is always enjoyable.More
Another David Lean, Noel Coward adaption, This Happy Breed follows the life of a suburban family between the two world wars. A two decade long epic this film has great character development and shows marriage, death, abandonment, and the rest of the occasions a family goes through. It has some funny snip bits of dialogue, and I especially like the communist/anarchists discussion. The film is somewhat dry, but it remains touching and relevant.More
This is a bit of a difficult creature from the other Lean/Coward film 'Brief Encounter' as it focuses on a whole family and is more of an ensemble piece. In many ways it's a precursor to the soaps we see on TV today like Eastenders and Coronation Street in that the main drama are family based and although the film is set between the two wars we don't deal with international affairs. I suppose it's more of a film of its time and seems a bit stilted now but the performances are all good and it's nice seeing Celia Johnson in a different type of role after 'Brief Encounter'. A cosy Sunday afternoon film.More
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