In Which We Serve ★★★

Noel Coward trying to capture the camaraderie of common British soldiers feels about as awkward and stilted as you'd expect from the man who wrote Cavalcade, but then again he really was a Black Book target and there's an agreeable nonchalance to the political righteousness of this propaganda piece (codirected by Coward, who also wrote, starred and composed the music, and David Lean) about a warship attacked during the 1941 Battle of Crete. There's believable material about the war at home and at sea, delivered mostly through flashbacks in an interesting narrative structure; the cast is good, with Celia Johnson just as striking here as she is in Brief Encounter, portraying the ship captain's wife coping with his departure. I prefer Mrs. Miniver as a depiction of British morale during the war, but then again it certainly is the flashy Hollywood version of essentially this same story; both films have an appreciable poise that's very English and quite admirable, though its final moments are as bombastic and over the top as those of Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent -- it was a strange time, and your appreciation will be limited to how much a long taste of it filtered through both cinema and the matter of the Public Interest intrigues you. At any rate, a striking companion to Dunkirk, which I coincidentally just saw last week.

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