In the midst of World War II, the renowned playwright Noël Coward engaged a young film editor named David Lean to help him realize his vision for an action drama about a group of Royal Navy sailors fighting the Germans in the Mediterranean.
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Very good British propaganda movie shot in the middle of WWII. Women are sewing while men are fighting Germans (not Italians, they're too lazy because of the southern climate according to one of the British officers). Recommended for history reasons.
The drama maybe at sea, but the certainties of the British class system certainly aren't with this deft balance of drawing room niceties time-dissolving back and forth into suspenseful sea drama. As ever with Coward the mix of Surrey-on-a-stick contrasted with cor' blimey Cockneyness is negated with the general decency of the effort. Johnson captures the tea-time spirit with aplomb.Lips were never so politely stiff.
Who knew Coward was such a solid actor? Start of a great pairing between he and Lean, this is perhaps the lesser of their efforts but still highly enjoyable filmmaking. Great location photography, solid usage of flashbacks to advance the story, & all the actors are solid. Story pretty good for a propaganda film, but compared with Happy Breed, Brief Encounter, etc. one cant help but feel a bit underwhelmed. 3.5 stars
I had read about this film for years, and the commentary on Criterion's "Brief Encounter" kept referring to it. I got a rather scratched up version from Netflix and was amazingly surprised at how good it was, how suspenseful, well-acted and crafted. One has to use their imagination for a bit to drop Noel Coward into the Lord Mountbatten role of boat captain, but he fares very well. Worth the view.
As a war propaganda movie it is probably the best of the bunch I have seen as the story feels 100% authentic and the war footage and action are realistic - spliced together with real footage from WW2 at the time. The flashbacks used give the movie a "Citizen Kane" effect as we get to see the life of several character as they fight for their lives on a floating lifeboat in the sea.
I wish black this black and white this white could be achieved naturally as it was when this was filmed. One of the better propaganda pics. "Here we go." Iconic photography and near-perfect editing. ¡Cross-fades! Overall, thought the characters were a bit too reserved and proper (perhaps too "british") for their circumstances. Wow, what a great first picture... Splendid movie. "A happy and efficient ship."