This film, made between the wars, is a well-crafted dramatisation of C.S. Forester's moving and ironic World War One story, "Brown on Resolution
The title appears to be a reference to the World War One poem:
"If I should die, think only this of me
That there's some corner of a foreign field
Which is for ever England ..."
Albert Brown, the British seaman who wages a single-handed fight against a German armoured cruiser is brought to life brilliantly by John Mills (later Sir John Mills). It was one of the first films in which he appeared, and it has been suggested, not least on the dust jacket of the 2002 release of this cassette, that the critical and commercial success of this film was a major boost to his career. This film also stars Betty Balfour, one of the greatest stars of the silent film era, as Brown's mother.
Like the book, the film tells the story of the life of Albert Brown from conception to the single handed battle he fights against the German armoured cruiser "Zeithen" at the start of tbe First World War.
(Incidentally, it's about time they brought back the cat and gave a dozen lashes to every lazy journalist, copywriter or reviewer who misuses the word "battleship" when actually referring to a cruiser or battlecruiser.)
Both the original book, "Brown on Resolution" and this film tell a story about heroism and duty, on the part of Albert Brown himself and the mother who throws away what could have been a comfortable middle class life to raise him.
The book also had an exceptionally ironic message about the difference between success and glory: Brown strikes a great blow for his country, but in circumstances which mean that neither he nor anyone back home ever knows it.
The last sentence of the book is one of the most memorable lines in war fiction: I won't quote it in full to avoid spoiling the tale for anyone reading this who decides to read the book, but it includes the words "No one would ever know".
However, while this film is true to most aspects of the book, even all those years ago the film industry could take the idea of a tragic ending but not the idea that nobody knows what the hero has done, so they slightly modified the final scene. If you want to know how, you'll have to read the book and watch the film, because explaining the change would spoil both.
There are a few other minor changes, none of which affect the quality or entertainment value of the film. But for any lovers of detail who are interested ...
* Brown is demoted from Leading Seaman in the book to Able Seaman in the film.
* The Royal Navy assisted in the making of the film and several of the scenes are shot on location on real warships. Unfortunately there were no 1914 vintage battlecruisers in existence in 1935. Some old film of one is used in the title seqence, but the action scenes depicting HMS Leopard, which was an "Inflexible" class battlecruiser in the book, were filmed using a "County" class eight-inch-gun heavy cruiser.
I am told that "Brown on Resolution" also inspired the 1950's film "Sailor of the King" but that film was rather more significantly altered and has a happy ending.
If you are into books which tell sea stories or tales of heroism, and you see a copy of "Brown on Resolution" on sale at a reasonable price or in a library, grab it at once. It is fairly hard to get hold of.
Similarly, if you are a fan of Sir John Mills or of early films about war at sea, don't miss "Forever England."
If you want to read a more upbeat C.S. Forester story of war at sea in the 20th Century, there are three which I can particularly recommend. These are "The Good Shepherd
" which is about a convoy escort mission during the battle of the Atlantic; "The Man in the Yellow Raft
" about action in a US destroyer during the Pacific war; and best of all, "The Ship
" which is an absolutely brilliant account of a light cruiser in action while defending a Malta convoy against greatly superior forces.