This Happy Breed 1944

This Happy Breed

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 12

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 603

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Movie Info

In 1919, Frank Gibbons (Robert Newton) returns home from army duty and moves into a middle-class row house, bringing with him wife Ethel (Celia Johnson), carping mother-in-law Mrs. Flint (Amy Veness), sister-in-law Sylvia (Alison Leggatt) and three children. Years pass, with the daily routine of family infighting and reconciliation occasionally broken by a strike or a festival. By the time the children have grown into adults, another war is looming.

Cast

Robert Newton
as Frank Gibbons
Celia Johnson
as Ethel Gibbons
John Mills
as Billy Mitchell
Kay Walsh
as Queenie Gibbons
Stanley Holloway
as Bob Mitchell
Amy Veness
as Mrs. Flint
Alison Leggatt
as Aunt Sylvia
Guy Verney
as Sam Ledbetter
View All

Critic Reviews for This Happy Breed

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (12)

  • This Happy Breed is Noel Coward's proud and loving tribute to the unbreakable British backbone.

    May 1, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Film's excellence comes mainly in the performances.

    February 23, 2012 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    November 6, 2007 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A powerful piece that hammers its message home without any kind of overt propagandizing.

    August 6, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • From the brilliant opening shot to the end, director Lean and photographer Ronald Neame have worked together, with originality and imagination, to produce some fine examples of camera angles and timing.

    February 17, 2016 | Full Review…
  • While not exacty up to contemporary standards of social realism this domestic saga was ground-breaking in its day and still captivates.

    May 1, 2013 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for This Happy Breed

  • Dec 28, 2013
    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.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2013
    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.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Feb 29, 2012
    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.
    David S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 06, 2011
    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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer

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