David Lean

This Happy Breed

This Happy Breed

David Lean brings to vivid emotional life Noël Coward’s epic chronicle of a working-class family in the London suburbs over the course of two decades. Robert Newton and Celia Johnson are surpassingly affecting as Frank and Ethel Gibbons, a couple with three children whose modest household is touched by joy and tragedy from the tail end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second. With its mix of politics and melodrama, This Happy Breed is a quintessential British domestic drama, featuring subtly expressive Technicolor cinematography by Ronald Neame and a remarkable supporting cast including John Mills, Stanley Holloway, and Kay Walsh.

Film Info

  • David Lean
  • United Kingdom
  • 1944
  • 111 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.37:1
  • English
  • Spine #605

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview about the film with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day
  • Interview with cinematographer-screenwriter-producer Ronald Neame from 2010
  • Trailers

Available In

Collector's Set

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

Blu-Ray Box Set

4 Discs

$79.96

Collector's Set

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

David Lean Directs Noël Coward

DVD Box Set

4 Discs

$63.96

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview about the film with Noël Coward scholar Barry Day
  • Interview with cinematographer-screenwriter-producer Ronald Neame from 2010
  • Trailers

This Happy Breed
Cast
Robert Newton
Frank Gibbons
Celia Johnson
Ethel Gibbons
Amy Veness
Mrs. Flint
John Mills
Billy Mitchell
Stanley Holloway
Bob Mitchell
Alison Leggatt
Aunt Sylvia
Kay Walsh
Queenie
Eileen Erskine
Vi
John Blythe
Reg
Guy Verney
Sam Leadbitter
Credits
Director
David Lean
Producer
Noël Coward
From the play by
Noël Coward
Adapted by
David Lean
Adapted by
Ronald Neame
Adapted by
Anthony Havelock-Allan
Photographed by
Ronald Neame
In charge of production
Anthony Havelock-Allan
Music played by
The London Symphony Orchestra
under the direction of
Muir Matheson
Art director
C. P. Norman
Film editor
Jack Harris

From The Current

Noël Coward’s Enduring Encounter with Film
Noël Coward’s Enduring Encounter with Film

Celebrated English playwright, actor, screenwriter, and composer Noël Coward brought us many cinema classics, but his relationship with the medium was far from straightforward, as Coward scholar Barry Day explains in a post at Literary Hub.

On Film / Short Takes
Jan 6, 2016
This Happy Breed: Home Truths

This Happy Breed: Home Truths

Noël Coward and David Lean created a patriotic diptych with their first two films: In Which We Serve, from 1942, about the bravery and sacrifice of British sailors and those who love them, and the 1944 This Happy Breed, on the indomitable spirit of …

By Farran Smith Nehme

On Film / Essays — Mar 27, 2012
When Noël Met David . . .
When Noël Met David . . .

Coward and Lean? It may not sound as natural as Launder and Gilliat or Powell and Pressburger, perhaps because we don’t instinctively think of Noël Coward as a filmmaker or of David Lean as part of a team. But they were the key creative figures in…

By Ian Christie

On Film / Essays — Mar 27, 2012
Noël Coward in New York

News

Noël Coward in New York

A celebration of one of the great cosmopolites of the twentieth century, in one of the cosmopolises he adored.


Mar 7, 2012

Explore

David Lean

Director

For many cinephiles, the name David Lean signifies grand moviemaking—sweeping epics like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. But the long and eclectic career of this legendary British director encompasses arresting intimacy as well, as evidenced by the films of his in the Criterion Collection. Among those are pictures that he was responsible for editing, early on in his work in film: some of his national cinema’s greatest hits, including Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s Pygmalion, Gabriel Pascal’s Major Barbara, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 49th Parallel. In the forties and early fifties, having moved to directing, he made several luminous films, including adaptations of such classic and important contemporary works from the stage and page as Harold Brighouse’s Hobson’s Choice, Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Still Life (Brief Encounter, in the film version), and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. All are graced by evocative, shadowy black-and-white cinematography and elegantly restrained compositions. Summertime, his gorgeous 1955 Technicolor trip to Venice with Katharine Hepburn, marked a turning point in his career: the sun-dappled location shoot was galvanizing for Lean, and the remainder of his films, from The Bridge on the River Kwai to A Passage to India, could be considered outdoor spectacles. Yet Lean’s deep interest in complex characters, his brilliant way with actors, and his classic sense of storytelling were never trumped by scale.