This Happy Breed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

This Happy Breed Reviews

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June 9, 2016
A dramatic masterpiece with stark honesty and beautiful depth to spare, this is a sweeping trip through time both in a country and in family.
March 11, 2016
The title is obviously ironical as the mostly unhappy Gibbons family outlast their welcome.
Despite its dramatic sweep, film is best appreciated as a comedy. But critics have to take it more seriously!
Reflects the conventional attitudes of the English lower middle class. At the General Strike Reg, the Left-leaning son, is soon straightened out by his insufferable father while his Socialist friend also sees the error of his ways and settles down to a humdrum middle-class existence that is seen as the ultimate goal.
Almost a soap opera. Pity it skirts over the real inter-war issues. It doesn't challenge the conventions. It could have shown the effects of the War on this generation but obviously just wants to paint a superficial picture. A cuppa solves everything. This sort of thing would eventually be the fodder of TV.
Coronation Street for the pre-TV generation (though not as good).
John Mills, Celia Johnson and the ever-reliable Stanley Holloway stand out.
Writing in his diary just before he died, Richard Burton characterised Noel Coward (on whose 1939 play the film is based) as a lovely man who sadly had a "slight mind". That helps me understand the lost opportunity here to put the inter-war years in some sort of real perspective. But it also makes me wonder how the same team a couple of years later produced the masterpiece that is
Brief Encounter.
July 8, 2015
good early stuff from director David Lean based on a Neil Coward play
December 18, 2014
A sobering look at a typical British family's experience in between the two World Wars and the second of Sir Noel Coward and Sir David Lean's four collaborations. Though probably the least rewarding of the four films, it has its merits and shows Lean further blossoming into whom would be one of the greatest directors ever.
½ July 11, 2014
Fine performances lead a very engaging story. It could've run 3 hours and I'd be happy to keep watching.
Super Reviewer
½ December 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.
Super Reviewer
June 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.
½ December 10, 2012
A superb story about the decades between the wars and how a family adjusts to all the changes in society. It is a wonderful study of family dynamics but did the women really complain as much as Celia Johnson. Every word out of her mouth was a complaint and for me it really put a downer on the film.
½ November 16, 2012
Spanning the years between the first World War to the second World War, Noel Coward's story of a middle class English family between the tumultuous times. Union strikes, social awakening are obvious backdrops, but the loss of family, the rebellion of the daughter, are the heartbreaking moments that make things last. A very good film, but obviously not the best David Lean film.
August 2, 2012
Excellent nostalgic look at life in Britain during the early 1900s. Its Noel Coward, no need to say more.
½ July 7, 2012
A very effective British drama. Full of pathos and humor. A very engaging tableaux and the house is one of the strongest characters in the film. I was truly sad to end my 111 minutes with This Happy Breed. Oh, and I have a massive crush on Kay Walsh.
May 3, 2012
For my review of this, "In Which We Serve," and "Blithe Spirit," check out my review of "Blithe Spirit" :)
Super Reviewer
February 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.
February 19, 2012
One of my all time favourites. Sterling cast and superb acting.
January 17, 2012
David Lean's second film as director, his first one solo after co-directing In Which We Serve (1942) with Noël Coward, who produced this film, based upon his own play. It's a very good character drama with some fine acting and this was a sign of things to come from director Lean, who went from small dramas to big epics. Set over a 20 year period in one house in Clapham, South London, it begins in 1919 when the Gibbons family move in, they include father Frank (Robert Newton), his wife Ethel (Celia Johnson), and their children Reg (John Blythe), Vi (Eileen Erskine) and Queenie (Kay Walsh) along with Frank's widowed sister Sylvia (Alison Leggatt) and Ethel's mother (Amy Veness). From 1919 onwards, they see many big changes in British culture, from the General Strike of 1926 to the rise of Facism across Europe, but how Britain stayed out of it. But the family stay very close, and Frank's neighbour Bob Mitchell (Stanley Holloway ) happens to be an acquaintance from his time in the trenches. Bob's son Billy (John Mills) falls in love with Queenie, but she turns him down for another man, only to return years later and marry Billy. Sylvia even takes up a spot of spiritualism. It's an engaging soap opera, and Coward has a good ear for dialogue, but some of it does come across as being a little over the top, (some sequences wouldn't look out of place in a Carry On film), but it has a good cast and it put Lean on the map as a good British director, and it is well worth a watch.
½ October 1, 2011
the whole film is summed up in a single scene: breaking the news of untimely death - takes place off screen all juxtaposed by upbeat music. Life carrying on around the tragic. This snapshot of the domestic is a brilliantly understated epic and makes a wonderful invert of Lawrence
½ August 29, 2011
agreat film and story
½ June 6, 2011
An adaptation of a Noel Coward play about how a middle class family lived between the two world wars - 1919 to 1939. Just after WWI, veteran Frank Gibbons (Robert Newton) and wife Ethel (Celia Johnson) have purchased a London home. Frank is immediately excited to find out that Bob Mitchell, a war buddy, lives next door and the two spend many a night binge drinking. Frank and Ethel have three children - Queenie, Reg and Vi who will all choose varying ways of life occasionally to the dismay of their very dutiful and rather straight-arrow approach of their parents. The story, from today's standards seems rather akin to a sitcom with the children going through different phases and learning a moral, the father drinking and the mother the voice of reason. I did find the film to be at times dull and found it a little difficult to get into the characters. But Lean does inject some wonderful touches like a muted color scheme creating a rather drab atmosphere of London at the time and a masterful segment where the frame is left empty for a rather extensive period of time that masterfully creates the required atmosphere for that scene. The acting, as expected in all Lean films, is wonderful. Though This Happy Breed is certainly not as good as say Brief Encounter, it still is well worth seeing.
June 6, 2011
the gibbons, once considered the perfect portrait of british life and well-crafted naturalism ,now considered a tad stiff and emotionless... still, despite its faults, i can still relate to bits of it,,, and i really liked the scene when mr and mrs gibbons find out about reg, in the garden! beautiful stuff
½ June 6, 2011
David Lean masterpiece in my eyes. The sister and mother in laws steal the show.
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