Watched Aug 16, 2012
Jacob Olsen’s review:
Noël Coward was a great, perhaps unequaled, contributor to the entertainment world. He also ventured into cinema, and he peaked in his collaboration with the great David Lean. They made four films together; In Which We Serve, This Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit and Brief Encounter.
Coward's most active effort was in the first of these; he of course wrote it, but also produced, starred and co-directed the film.
During World War II, many directors from around the world made it their mission to make PR films to cheer up their own troops' morale and at the same time also comfort the people at home. Some were more candid efforts, like Laurence Olivier's Henry V or Powell & Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, others were more direct in context and their approach, John Ford's They Were Expendable is a good example of this. Lots and lots of others could be mentioned. However, maybe the most morale-boosting, pro patria heroic sample was made by Coward / Lean - namely In Which We Serve.
The film is extremely British - «There's a good lad!», «No need to make such a fuss about it, now is there?», all spoken with the greatest of calm and always with a nice cup of tea (or cocoa) close at hand. Noël Coward based the role of his Captain 'D' on Lord Mountbatten, a close friend of his, and does the job as commanding officer of a British Destroyer really well. The film isn't strictly about him though, a few of the crew are also selected for larger or smaller parts. There among a very young Richard Attenborough in his very first role.
The creativity of the film comes from the ship getting torpedoed quite early on, and some of the surviving crew, although many badly hurt manages to board a raft. From there we get to know their background through flashbacks, a technique that works quite well here. At least we don't know until the very end which of them who will survive.
I was quite surprised that this one held up so well, so if you generally don't mind wartime pictures with a fair share of «That's the spirit!», well, then this should be, hmm, your cup of tea.