David Lean and Noël Coward

In Which We Serve

In Which We Serve

In the midst of World War II, the renowned playwright Noël Coward engaged a young film editor named David Lean to help him realize his vision for an action drama about a group of Royal Navy sailors (roles that would be filled by Coward himself, Bernard Miles, and John Mills, among others) fighting the Germans in the Mediterranean. Coward and Lean ended up codirecting the large-scale project—an impressive undertaking, especially considering that neither of them had directed for the big screen before (this would be Coward’s only such credit). Cutting between a major naval battle and flashbacks to the men’s lives before they left home, In Which We Serve (an Oscar nominee for best picture) was a major breakthrough for both filmmakers and a sensitive and stirring piece of propaganda.

Film Info

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
  • A Profile of “In Which We Serve,” a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film
  • Audio recording of a 1969 conversation between actor Richard Attenborough and Coward at London’s National Film Theatre
  • Trailer

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
  • A Profile of “In Which We Serve,” a short documentary from 2000 on the making of the film
  • Audio recording of a 1969 conversation between actor Richard Attenborough and Coward at London’s National Film Theatre
  • Trailer
In Which We Serve
Cast
Noël Coward
Captain “D” Kinross
John Mills
Shorty Blake
Bernard Miles
Walter Hardy
Celia Johnson
Alix
Kay Walsh
Frida
Joyce Carey
Kath
Derek Elphinstone
Number 1
Richard Attenborough
Young stoker
Credits
Director
David Lean
Director
Noël Coward
Producer
Noël Coward
Screenplay
Noël Coward
Photographed by
Ronald Neame
Associate producer
Anthony Havelock-Allan
Musical score
Noël Coward
Conducted by
Muir Mathieson
Conducted by
The London Symphony Orchestra
Art director
David Rawnsley
Film editor
Thelma Myers

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
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In Which We Serve: Battle Stations
In Which We Serve: Battle Stations

Good wartime propaganda films are as rare as good wars. Noël Coward and David Lean’s In Which We Serve, which had its premiere in Great Britain in September 1942, when the nation was entering the fourth year of hostilities with the Axis powers, wa…

By Terrence Rafferty

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
Noël Coward in New York

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

On Film / In Theaters
Mar 7, 2012
In Which We Serve

In Which We Serve began one of the greatest director/author collaborations in cinema, that of filmmaker David Lean (1908-1991) and theatrical legend Noel Coward (1899-1973). Ironically at first, neither Coward’s work on the film, nor his collabo…

By Bruce Eder


Sep 26, 1995

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.