In Which We Serve (1942) – Noel Coward and David Lean

As I continue to explore The Movie Book from DK Canada, I find myself diving into the What Else to Watch list after the book’s recommendation of Das Boot (and who doesn’t love that movie?).

Noel Coward not only stars in this film, he wrote, produced and directed it (alongside David Lean) as we follow the story of the HMS Torrin. The tale unfolds after her sinking, as we are given flashbacks that take us from her construction to her ultimate destruction during World War II.

Coward plays Torrin’s one and only captain, Kinross, and he runs his men and his ship tightly, teaching them loyalty and honor, to themselves and their country.

We are taken on a journey that interweaves Torrin’s service, with the lives and loves of those who serve aboard her, even as they struggle to survive after a devastating attack that leaves them adrift in the ocean.

There is humor, pathos, and some well-crafted moments, I love seeing how the artillery works, and how the shells are fed up to the emplacements. But I also love seeing the captain and crew ashore, with their family and lady loves.

in which we serve- coward and crew

Kinross and his wife, Alix (Celia Johnson) are a solid pairing, and she bring’s the captain’s wife image to life, even as Kinross is drawn between two loves, that for his wife, and that for his ship.

While aboard, he sets the example, expects his orders to be followed, and his ship serves beautifully, even aiding in the excavation of Dunkirk. Meanwhile, those who remain at home have their own war, as England suffers bombings, that have consequences that resonate through the crew.

In Which We Serve earned itself two Oscar nominations, one for Best Picture, and the other for Best Original Screenplay, though it didn’t take home either of them. Coward was honored with an honorary Oscar for his film, recognizing its outstanding production achievement.

In the end, In Which We Serve is an enjoyable film, a very British look at a Royal Navy ship and her fate. I mean everything on this ship is spotless all the time. I mean, from what we saw of it. And I have seen some very clean ships (and engine rooms) but it doesn’t have a lived in look, of course, we don’t get to see the crew’s quarters as such.

Still, this ends up being a very enjoyable film, and while not a real ship, she and her crew are based on another ship, HMS Kelly.

I rather enjoyed this one, but then again, I’ve always enjoyed films about ships, and subs…

Pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book, and check out this title and others, find a new classic to discover and watch tonight!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s