In Which We Serve (1942)

In this wartime tribute to the courage of the British Navy, Noël Coward traces turbulent experiences across the ranks on an ill-fated destroyer.

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Film details

Introduction

“Noël Coward performed with unexpected brilliance here as co-director, writer, musical composer and star of this stirring WWII drama.”
The Virgin Film Guide

A hugely successful playwright, performer and entertainer before World War II, Noël Coward was criticised in Britain during the conflict, and responded by writing, directing and starring in this superior propaganda effort.

Inspired by the experiences of his friend Louis Mountbatten, whose HMS Kelly was sunk during the battle for Crete, it follows the progress of a fictional Royal Navy destroyer and its crew, with Coward the captain and well-known British actors (John Mills, Richard Attenborough) lower down the ranks.

If Coward’s view that the country is fighting to preserve Britain’s traditional social hierarchy now seems somewhat condescending, the film’s sincerity and restraint remain moving. It earned Coward a special Academy Award for “outstanding production achievement”.

Coward’s key creative collaborators on this project – co-director and editor David Lean, and cinematographer Ronald Neame – went on to become famed directors in their own right.

Cast & Credits

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