This Happy Breed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

This Happy Breed Reviews

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Super Reviewer
June 6, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 6, 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.
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