IMDb > This Happy Breed (1944)
This Happy Breed
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This Happy Breed (1944) More at IMDbPro »

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This Happy Breed -- David Lean brings to vivid emotional life Noël Coward's epic chronicle of a working-class family in the London suburbs over the course of two decades. With its mix of politics and melodrama, This Happy Breed is a quintessential British domestic drama, featuring subtly expressive Technicolor cinematography by Ronald Neame and a remarkable supporting cast.


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Down 15% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
David Lean (adaptation)
Anthony Havelock-Allan (adaptation)
View company contact information for This Happy Breed on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 April 1947 (USA) See more »
Noel Coward's attempt to show how the ordinary people lived between the wars. Just after WWI the Gibbons family moves to a nice house in the suburbs... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Twenty years between wars in the history of a British family See more (41 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Robert Newton ... Frank Gibbons
Celia Johnson ... Ethel Gibbons
Amy Veness ... Mrs. Flint
Alison Leggatt ... Aunt Sylvia

Stanley Holloway ... Bob Mitchell

John Mills ... Billy Mitchell
Kay Walsh ... Queenie Gibbons
Eileen Erskine ... Vi
John Blythe ... Reg Gibbons
Guy Verney ... Sam Leadbitter
Betty Fleetwood ... Phyllis Blake
Merle Tottenham ... Edie
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Charles King ... Himself (uncredited) (archive footage)

Bessie Love ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Laurence Olivier ... Narrator (uncredited)

Anita Page ... Herself (archive footage) (uncredited)

Directed by
David Lean 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Noël Coward  play (uncredited)
Anthony Havelock-Allan  adaptation
David Lean  adaptation
Ronald Neame  adaptation

Produced by
Noël Coward .... producer (as Noel Coward)
Ronald Neame .... associate producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Muir Mathieson (uncredited)
Clifton Parker (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Ronald Neame (photographed by)
Film Editing by
Jack Harris 
Art Direction by
C.P. Norman 
Makeup Department
Tony Sforzini .... makeup artist
Vivienne Walker .... hair stylist
Marjorie Whittle .... assistant hair stylist (uncredited)
Production Management
Anthony Havelock-Allan .... in charge of production
Kenneth Horne .... production manager (as Ken Horne)
Jack Martin .... production manager
Robert C. Foord .... assistant production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
George Pollock .... assistant director
Anthony Hearne .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
G.E. Calthrop .... artistic supervisor: Mr. Coward
Harold Hurdell .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Arthur Lawson .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Sound Department
John Cook .... sound recordist (as John Cooke)
Desmond Dew .... sound recordist
C.C. Stevens .... sound recordist
Cyril Crowhurst .... dubbing editor (uncredited)
Roy Day .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Walter R. Day .... assistant sound (uncredited)
Percy Dayton .... boom operator (uncredited)
Anthony J. Kay .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Gus Lloyd .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Gordon K. McCallum .... boom operator (uncredited)
George Paternoster .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Winston Ryder .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Alan Whatley .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Special Effects by
W. Percy Day .... special effects (as Percy Day)
George Blackwell .... special effects (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
George Blackwell .... models (uncredited)
Charles Staffell .... back projection (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Guy Green .... camera operator
Dennis Bartlett .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Jim Body .... focus puller (uncredited)
B. Francke .... camera operator (uncredited)
David Lytton .... clapper loader (uncredited)
George Minassian .... focus puller (uncredited)
Eugene H.E. Pizey .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Hilda Collins .... dress supervisor
Editorial Department
Margery Saunders .... assembly cutter (uncredited)
Norah Walsh .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Muir Mathieson .... musical director
Muir Mathieson .... conductor (uncredited)
Other crew
Joan Bridge .... associate technicolor colour director
Harold Haysom .... technician: for the Technicolor Company
Natalie Kalmus .... technicolor color director
Paddy Arnold .... assistant continuity (uncredited)
Maggie Unsworth .... continuity (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Germany:105 min | USA:115 min | UK:114 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Australia:G | Finland:S | Portugal:M/12 | Sweden:Btl | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (video rating) (1996) | USA:Approved

Did You Know?

Billy works his work up in the Navy through the film. When he is first seen, he is a Leading Seaman/ Rate having a 3rd Class Quarters Rating in Gunnery. At Reg's wedding, he is now a Petty Officer, with 2 stripes (chevrons) indicating 10 Years Good Conduct, and is still working in Gunnery. When he comes to tell the Gibbons, he has found Queenie, he is now a Sub-Lieutenant, having made the transition from the ranks to the Officer Class.See more »
Continuity: In the opening sequence (DVD Timing at 2.30) the bathroom window opens out to the right. Later when Reg opens to the window to talk to his father who is in the garden (DVD Timing at 46.35) the window opens out to the left. Then during the closing sequence the window reverts to being open to the right.See more »
Ethel Gibbons:There will always be wars as long as men are such fools as to want to go to them.See more »
Movie Connections:
References The Broadway Melody (1929)See more »
Bird of Love DivineSee more »


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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Twenty years between wars in the history of a British family, 6 July 2007
Author: blanche-2 from United States

The Gibbons family is "This Happy Breed," a 1944 film starring Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, Sterling Holloway, John Mills and Kay Walsh. The story begins with the end of World War I in 1919 with the return of Frank Gibbons (Newton) to his family - wife Ethel (Johnson), son Reg (John Blythe) and daughters Queenie (Kay Walsh) and Vi (Eileen Erskine) as they begin their life in a new home. The next 20 years bring weddings, births, tragedy, and death, as it does to all of us. Queenie is being courted by a sailor, Bill (Mills) who wants to marry her, but she wants to better her class and says she can't be happy with him; Vi falls in love and marries, as does Reg. Frank becomes a travel agent after the war and finds that one of his service friends (Holloway) lives next door. They become best buddies and provide the film's humor as they attempt to drink in secret. Ethel meanwhile has to cope with two somewhat difficult characters: the hypochondriacal Aunt Sylvia (Alison Leggatt) and Ethel's mother (Amy Veness) who live with them.

One thing interesting about British films that deal with the war - "In Which We Serve," "The 49th Parallel," and this one, for instance - one is made aware of the hardships, loss, sacrifice and sadness, while American films have a much more romantic quality to them. Though "This Happy Breed" ends just at the dawn of World War II, there is discussion of the European situation, fascism, and a general fear of another war in light of what they all went through in the last one.

"This Happy Breed" is another triumph, though an unsung one, for two wonderful artists - David Lean and Noel Coward, who worked together in this film, "Blithe Spirit" and "In Which We Serve" and had so many brilliant accomplishments on their own. The Gibbons feel like a real family, with a no-nonsense, hard-working matriarch, her more relaxed, emotional husband, and three children who go their separate ways in life and meet turmoil, normalcy, or tragedy. The most touching scene in the movie for me was the talk that Frank has with Reg before his wedding. "Always put your wife first," Frank says after he finally gets Reg to stop kidding around and listen to him.

I wasn't expecting this slice of life to be a tear-jerker, but it was, due to the beautiful acting of Celia Johnson and Robert Newton especially. They are the rocks of the film, providing its center. When Queenie runs off with a married man, she is shunned and disowned by Ethel, yet one can tell just by her movements that she is as heartbroken and worried as she is angry. Frank seems to accept what she says, yet once he's alone, he breaks down and sobs.

"This Happy Breed" sneaks up on you; before you know it, you're involved with the Gibbons. They're the stuff Britain is made of, the stuff that gets the country through its darkest times. A little gem; don't miss it. Oh, and I knew that was Laurence Olivier's voice in the beginning.

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what a cosy film? benhackett81
The removal of the Edward VIII calendar is the best 'bit' holdencopywriting
Question: Is Billy an officer in his last scene in the film? holdencopywriting
A Damn Sexy Film my_dead_dog
Piece of music - help! sel-uloid
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