This Happy Breed | Chicago Reader

This Happy Breed

Based on Noel Coward's patriotic stage drama, this 1944 feature—the first solo directing credit for David Lean, who'd go on to make The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Dr. Zhivagomdspans the tumultuous decades between the wars as it follows the vicissitudes of a family of London suburbanites. Robert Newton plays a World War I veteran and benign patriarch who dotes on his three adult children; the most rebellious of them (Kay Walsh, Lean's wife at the time) is also the most modern and materialistic. Celia Johnson glows as the hardworking, no-nonsense wife and mother, the very model of self-sacrifice and British middle-class rectitude. Coward's tart dialogue tempers the sentimentality, and Ronald Neame's subtle cinematography is a marked departure from the bold hues of early Technicolor. With Stanley Holloway and John Mills. 107 min.

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