This Happy Breed (Restored) (2 discs) DVD
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Directed by David Lean
Produced in 1944
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Barney Kelly finds this celebration of British restraint and stolidity proves what a great filmmaker Lean was.
As a director, David Lean is synonymous with epic locations and grand passions, which makes This Happy Breed something of an oddity in his filmography. Adapted from Noël Coward’s play, it’s an episodic tale of an average working class family in the interwar years, tracing the drama caused by illicit affairs, family bereavement, the first ripples of women’s liberation and political instability in the country during the General Strike. It’s impressive how Lean transforms the material into cinema. Under a lesser director, this might have been a stagebound affair but Lean’s knowledge of his craft means he avoids any sense of claustrophobia. It might be worlds away from a ‘typical’ Lean film but it proves what a great filmmaker he was. And if its celebration of British restraint and stolidity may seem quaint to some, then it should be remembered that it was made when these qualities were under siege. BK
This Happy Breed, Noel Coward’s celebration of the strength and humour of the British working class family in times of crisis struck a resounding impact with viewing audiences when first released. Chronicling the trials and tribulations of the Gibbons family from the end of the First World War, Coward’s anthem to British resilience became the most successful film of 1944.
Narrated by Laurence Olivier, the story traces the drama caused by illicit affairs, family bereavement, the first ripples of women's liberation and political instability in the country during the General Strike. It highlights the fact that these internal wranglings are all happening in one house in an average street, and that each average house has its own dramatic stories to tell.
This Happy Breed was David Lean’s first credit as a solo director and was the first in a succession of worldwide hits for him and his distinctive visual style. Both Robert Newton and Celia Johnson preside over the ups and downs of their family with great humour and patience, and are ably supported by John Mills and Stanley Holloway.
Length: 105 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 26th January 2009
Cat No: 7952716
- 2 discs
- Brand new digital restoration
- Original theatrical trailer
- Re-release trailer
- Restoration comparison featurette
- Extensive South Bank Show feature on David Lean
- Commemorative booklet by noted British film historian David Rolinson
- Extensive stills gallery, including behind the scenes images
- Original Pressbook and material in PDF format.