39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2000
During the early dark years of the last war, British cinema managed to produce this epic. With a cast of all the best available, and headed up by the upright and perfect Noel Coward, the story followed the life and adventures of a single ship and her crew in a hetic but short existance.The story is based loosely on the exploits of Lord Louie Mountbatten and his ship HMS Kelly. Just what the public needed to lift the gloomy feelings of a dark and almost defeated Great Britain. A must for any classic collector or younger generation to learn values of friendship and comradship, thrown together by the ravages of war.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Yes it's wartime propaganda, yes it's so frightfully stiff upper-lipped, and yes it's full of stock 'ordinary' sailors puffing out their chests for King & Country. BUT it's so much much more than this, and well worth going back to and reassessing. First of all, it contains shards of true genius. Coward as writer and actor at his best - with a cast you could not equal. David Lean's eye, which means you get images and scenes that are as good as it gets (seeing the men run outside into the rain at action stations whilst a gun is wound out in readiness over them...following the journey of a shell from the hold up into the gun...). And with a subtle, telling story and writing that is truly great (a family picnic on the Downs with planes dogfighting overhead - modestly brilliant). And above this there is a certain essence - the essence of britishness, the essence of why we were able to fight the war how we did and who we are now as a consequence. I found it deeply moving at every turn, and 'true' in everything that matters. Just watch Celia Johnson as she picks up the telegram and knows she has to open it - just the tiniest hint of recoil. And a scene where the Captain shakes the hand and says farewell to each of his surviving men in turn - unhurried, eye to eye and hand to hand. I didn't expect to respond quite like this - but there is something great about humanity distilled into every frame of this great work.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2013
In Which We Serve is rightly regarded as a classic that shows Britain at her best. The film tells the story of the crew of a Royal Navy destroyer in the early years of World War II. Noel Coward is perfectly cast as the Captain and he is ably assisted by some of the stalwarts of British cinema such as Celia Johnson, John Mills and Bernard Miles with an excellent performance from a, strangely uncredited, Richard Attenborough. There is plenty of action with the ship taking on German destroyers and defending themselves from enemy aircraft but it also shows life on the Home Front and what the civvies had to put up with.It was filmed in black and white and when special effects were not too sophisticated but the acting is superb and shows we don't need all the bad language so prevalent in modern films. Highly recommended!
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2009
This is without a doubt one of my favourite ever British films. Undoubtedly it is pure propaganda, made at the height of World War Two, but somehow it manages to rise above this and just become fabulously entertaining. Some people can be turned off by Noel Coward and Celia Johnson's "fraightfully posh" performances as Captain Kinross (Captain "D" as he's known to his crew) and his wife, but if you look beyond that you find a terrifically good film with some powerful and moving scenes that stick in the mind long, long after the film is over: The tragedy of Bernard Miles Petty Officer's homecoming; Young Richard Attenborough as a youthful seaman running scared from his post and having to come to terms with the consequences of it; Sir John Mills as "Shorty" Blake tending to the injured and his homecoming after being missing presumed dead; Captain D's emotional farewell to his crew that makes many a stiff upper lip tremble - and many more tiny moments that just make this a true classic of it's kind. The fact that it was co-directed by its star and David Lean means that some of the photography is superb, especially when you consider what was happening in the real world during production.
This Carlton edition also includes a short documentary about the making of the film (in which, amongst other things, you learn why a certain Mr William Hartnell does not appear in it!) and other minor extras like biographies and a trailer.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Made in 1942, whilst WWII was at its height, it's inevitable there's a large slice of propaganda in this. At times, it can be a bit twee, a bit saccharine, and, with Noel Coward in the starring role, it is inevitably terribly, terribly English. For all that, it's never mawkish or overly sentimental. Told as a series of vignettes, mostly in flashback, it is the story of one ship & its crew. It's probably unlikely that one ship & its crew went through all of the incidents that the fictional HMS Torrin does, but it is quite certain that all of the incidents did happen to one ship or another, and probably many. The various episodes are all entirely true to life as it was then, and slip seamlessly from one to the next without any need to force them together artificially. If the film is a trifle formulaic at times, it is nevertheless well & tightly scripted throughout, structurally & in detail. It is also well cast & well acted, with all the characters, however sketchily developed, being as believable as the situations they face.
As a final footnote, it seems that, whilst I've questioned whether everything that happened might have happened to a single ship & its crew, the career of HMS Torrin was based on that of an actual ship, HMS Kelly. Commisioned in late August 1939, just before hostilities began, torpedoed in 1940 but not sunk, her final fate was the same as Torrin's. The one major incident in the film that isn't in her career is Dunkirk. At that time she was out of commission, due to the afore-mentioned torpedo damage. She did, however, assist in the evacuation of allied forces from Norway. The original of Capt (D), by the way, was no lesser a person than Lord Louis Mountbatten.
Whilst I try to be sparing with 5 star reviews, I can't do other than give this the 5 it fully deserves. The best Navy film ever? You've probably already guessed it. Made in 1953, thus without any propaganda sweetening; rawer, rougher, The Cruel Sea would get a full 10 / 10, where I would give In which We Serve "only" 9 or 9.5. Whichever edition you acquire (I have a different one to this Restored version), it's well worth the money & bears repeated watching.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2013
I bought this product for my wife and she loved it. Delivery was prompt. The sound and picture quality were first class the remastering of the original film were superb.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
This film was made and released in 1942, at the height of World War 2, a crucial year in the battle of the Atlantic.
It tells the story of a ship, from its construction to its sinking. We see the home lives of the crew, from the dinner parties of the captain to the kitchen sinks of the crew. Some are killed, and some survive. It reminds us of the very human tragedy of loss of life in the war, which can seem like just a statistic sixty odd years later. The sense of duty and camaraderie amongst the crew is truly touching.
The picture quality is not the best, but it is perfectly watchable. The film shows us the sacrifices that previous generations made to keep us free.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2009
Opportunities to see Noel Coward recite Noel Coward were necessarily inhibited by his death, but he has left among his filmed artifacts this stunning little achievement, perhaps the quietest war film, probably the most British. To be sure, it veers maudlin once or twice, and the whole production is suffused with the blood of righteousness - but not self-righteousness. This is the kind of movie that makes me want to join the Navy, I who get seasick in the bath.
How does a middle-aged homosexual song-and-dance man support the war effort? By producing a bang-up answer to Wyler and Ford, a vivid recruitment poster for the side of decency and respect. Brutal, tender, horrible, and full of hope, IN WHICH WE SERVE sings the victory song of both shellfire and home fire without mention of glory or distinction. Noel Coward's acting is a marvel of disinterested conviction. Nobody could speak faster, or with more precision, and that with the stiffest of upper lips.
No one wrote dialog at once so arch and comfortable, either, except maybe Kipling. Coward celebrates the most sophisticated level of civilization, the blithe, eloquent man of society who has managed not to become jaded. He embraces his England with a respectfully familiar pinch on the cheek, and he kisses her with the most restrained of passions in front of the children. But he also loves with all his heart the simple proletarian bedrock from whence he sprang, and he allows the working classes to display as much humanity and emotion as he denies his own character.
There is much stage-like, not to say stagey, in the production, which shouldn't be very surprising given its principal antecedents. The film is sometimes expressionistic in design, the angles and sets a terrifying collage of unsettling, theatrical images in contrast to the reassuring tea cozy and the ramrod-straight captain on the quarterdeck. The symbols are profoundly simple and the effect is disarmingly true.
As Coward says over a drink, "Perfect; it's not a bit too sweet." Well, it is rather, but mix another pitcher of Bovril and sherry and don't complain, there's a good chap.
on 10 March 2013
One of the finest films ever made. In every department of film making this scores the highest. During World War 2, the British film industry was somewhere near it's zenith and this great film not only encouraged men and women to join the war effort but also showed the world that the British could make the finest films.
on 24 January 2015
It's a fabulous record of a time in England that maybe didn't exist but it may have-a great story of British stiff upper lip in the war that no doubt helped the Country stay strong and based on a true story-Nice to get a bit of extra commentry and film about the film. Great quality and I will watch it again and again.