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In Which We Serve (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, War | 23 December 1942 (USA)
This "story of a ship," the British destroyer HMS Torrin, is told in flash backs by survivors as they cling to a life raft.

Directors:

(as Noel Coward),

Writer:

(by) (as Noel Coward)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ordinary Seaman Shorty Blake
...
Chief Petty Officer Walter Hardy
Celia Johnson ...
Mrs. Alix Kinross
Kay Walsh ...
Freda Lewis
Joyce Carey ...
Mrs. Kath Hardy
Derek Elphinstone ...
No. 1
...
Flags
Robert Sansom ...
Guns
Philip Friend ...
Torps
Chimmo Branson ...
Midshipman
Ballard Berkeley ...
Engineer Commander
Hubert Gregg ...
Pilot
...
Doc
Michael Whittaker ...
Sub
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Storyline

This is the story of a British Naval ship, HMS Torrin, from its construction to its sinking in the Mediterranean during action in World War II. The ship's first and only commanding officer is the experienced Captain E.V. Kinross who trains his men not only to be loyal to him but to the country and most importantly, to themselves. They face challenges at sea and also at home. They lose some of their shipmates in action and some of their loved ones in the devastation that is the blitz. Throughout it all, the men of the Torrin serve valiantly and heroically. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The greatest human drama of war filmed! The greatest picture you've ever seen! [UK Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 December 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hidalgos de los mares  »

Box Office

Budget:

£240,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System)

Color:

(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At about the 1hr 15 min mark when Shorty and Walter are saying goodbye to their respective wives there is in the background a slim dark haired woman who turns her face to the camera for a brief moment. This is rumoured to be Violette Szabo GC who did some film extra work for Two Cities film as her landlord at the time co-owned the company. This was between her husband being killed and Violette being recruited into SOE. It is difficult to tell if it is Violette but it does sure look like her. See more »

Goofs

When soldiers, evacuated from Dunkirk, are disembarking, they are shown carrying Lee Enfield No.4 rifles. This model of Lee Enfield was not issued to troops until later in the war. They should have been shown with the earlier model Short Magazine Lee Enfield. In most (all?) other scenes, the correct model for the period is shown. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Voice: [voiceover] This is the story of a ship...
[long sequence of ship-building and launch]
See more »

Crazy Credits

This film is dedicated to the Royal Navy "whereon under the good providence of God, the wealth, safety and strength of the kingdom chiefly depend". See more »

Connections

Featured in Richard Attenborough: A Life in Film (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Good King Wenceslas
(uncredited)
Lyrics by John M. Neale
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"God Bless This Ship And The Men Who Serve In Her"
13 September 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

It's ironic indeed that in Noel Coward's greatest screen role he played a part so atypical of what we expect from that most witty and erudite of artists. There's a lot good in In Which We Serve, but if you are expecting Coward bon mots, skip this film.

Whatever else Coward was, he was one patriotic British citizen who loved his country and wanted to do his bit in World War II. The incident in which In Which We Serve is based on what actually happened to the the destroyer HMS Kelly in 1941 off Crete which was sunk after taking a few of the enemy with her. The ship was commanded by one Louis Mountbatten of the royal family and a good friend of Coward's.

Coward's character while not a member of the royal family is still of the upper crust of British society. Mountbatten when war broke out used his considerable royal connections to get into a combat assignment when war broke out. The sequences in which Coward's ship is sunk and the actions of Coward and the crew hews pretty close to what happened to Mountbatten and the men of the Kelly.

While we Coward and his survivors clinging to life rafts and bits of wreckage, the audience gets a series of flashbacks revolving around three men, Coward, CPO Bernard Miles, and Seaman John Mills. We see them at peace and at war with the women they are involved with who are Celia Johnson, Joyce Carey, and Kay Walsh.

This was total war for Great Britain, something until 9/11 I don't think Americans could fully appreciate. While the men are at sea, the women live under threat and fact of bombardment by air. Their scenes are every bit as important as the battle scenes at sea, showing a people totally mobilized.

In small roles you can find such people as James Donald, Michael Wilding, and Richard Attenborough all part of the crew. Attenborough in particular makes a vivid impression in his part.

The Earl of Mountbatten made a series of televised memoirs in the early seventies that didn't reach American television until after his assassination in 1979. It was about 10 episodes and they dealt with all facets of his career. Before he retired in fact he became the First Sea Lord of the British Navy. But one episode dealt with the sinking of the HMS Kelly and the men of the Kelly who survived year after year got together for a remembrance. Some footage was shown of one of the gatherings. I wonder if they still do that and how many men are left from the ship survivors.

In fact it's altogether fitting and proper that this review be dedicated to Lord Louis Mountbatten who not without controversy served his country well and faithfully throughout a long a productive life. And of course this review is also dedicated to the brave men of the HMS Kelly, those that have passed on and those who might still survive. They and the other members of the Royal Navy kept their country from invasion for almost a thousand years and in the case of World War II kept the world from a totalitarian nightmare.

And they couldn't have a better film than In Which We Serve to perpetuate the memory of their deeds.


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