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IN WHICH WE SERVE

Director: DAVID LEAN & NOËL COWARD

U.K. • 1942 • BLACK AND WHITE • 114 MIN


Clinging to a life-raft after their ship has been torpedoed, members of the crew of hMS torrin reflect on their lives at home and on ship. When noël Coward got bored with the technicalities of filmmaking and concentrated on the actors, Lean took over the direction of In Which We Serve. There are intimations of things to come: the intricate and subjective use of flashback (partially inspired here by the example of Citizen Kane); the sharp eye and ear for class contrast and barriers; and particularly, the scrutiny of the English character under stress. the wartime sentiments nowadays might look dated, but they struck a powerful chord at the time. it was voted the year’s best film by the new York critics; and there was unstinting praise from, of all people, the great Soviet director Pudovkin. ‘You can see the face of the real England in it,’ he said, particularly extolling Coward’s farewell to his crew, a justly famous tour-de-force.
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