Top critical review
For God's sake, change the tune
on 31 August 2015
Noel Coward is captain of HMS Torrin, a British Navy destroyer, and he expects his crew to obey his philosophy. His ships are happy and efficient, so he likes to believe. The story is told in flashbacks as survivors cling to a dinghy after HMS Torrin is sunk.
It’s a propaganda film that is meant to rouse feelings of discipline and dedication to country in time of war. Everyone seems to put the ship before themselves or their loved ones. Even the sailor’s wives put the ship first and understand that there is a higher purpose beyond their own personal happiness. From that perspective, it’s all a bit ghastly for me, I’m afraid. I found the film dragged and also was very choppy – a bit here then another bit there. It could have had a more focused storyline.
All the women are pretty awful in this. Celia Johnson who plays Coward’s wife speaks in that laughably bad clipped English and seaman John Mill’s mother as depicted by Kathleen Harrison (Mrs Blake) is just plain annoying. Coward’s delivery is machine gunned at you so it’s not always clear what he is saying. However, set against this, there is some amusing dialogue in parts. Overall, the film is too long and I’m not sure about the propaganda message of join the war effort and expect heartbreak. Err, ok, it’s a no thanks from me then.