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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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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:
A Patriot For Me See more (40 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)
Noel Coward  play (uncredited)
Anthony Havelock-Allan  adaptation
David Lean  adaptation
Ronald Neame  adaptation

Produced by
Noel Coward .... producer
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
Tony 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?

At the start of the scene where Queenie leaves her farewell letter, starting with a shot of rain on the pavement, a couple of bars from the song "Would You Like To Take A Walk?" are heard. This song was made popular by (among others), Annette Hanshaw, and Al Bowlly, who both recorded it in 1931. It originally appeared in the musical "Sweet and Low" There is no screen credit.See more »
Crew or equipment visible: You can see the camera and the focus puller's hand (DVD Timing at 13.51) in the reflection of the window as the camera pulls out of the 'Ticklers Tours of the Battlefields' shop front.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 »
For He's A Jolly Good FellowSee more »


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23 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
A Patriot For Me, 16 July 2004
Author: writers_reign from London, England

If Noel Coward WAS a queen then his tiara was studded with both emeralds and ironies and were the Man In The Street asked to design a coat of arms for Coward it would surely feature a silk, polka dot dressing gown with an amber cigarette holder a destra and a white grand piano rampant. Not a bad image for someone born in Teddington and raised in Clapham, both spiritually if not geographically light years away from the pavements of Mayfair sprinkled lightly with the stardust of his talent and neighborhoods where any extraneous avian noise would more likely be a 'sparrer' than a nightingale. Say the words 'Noel Coward song' and the phrase triggers memories of brittle, witty and intricate rhymes melded to staccato melodies (Mad Dogs and Englishmen, The Stately Homes Of England, Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs. Worthington)only a full minim later do we recall the soaring melodies and simple words of I'll Follow My Secret Heart, I'll See You Again, Someday I'll Find You. One of the great ironies of Coward's life was that he was a super-Patriot with a genuine and abiding love of England yet the crippling tax system of the time (that allowed him to keep the sterling equivalent of five cents in every dollar he earned) forced him to choose tax exile and establish homes in Jamaica and Switzerland, supreme irony indeed that the Establishment felt insufficient pride in the man whose hymn to the spirit of the Englishman, 'London Pride' had helped see us through the dark days of World War Two, to make an exception for him. Ironic, too, that his finest play, 'This Happy Breed', rooted deeply in the down-to-earth soil of Clapham Common should so often be overlooked in favor of the undeniable brilliance of the comedies. 'Finest', of course, does not always mean 'most famous', 'best-loved' etc, and Coward has many contenders in those stakes, Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Present Laughter and, let's face it, 'Private Lives', which even as I write is still playing in Paris in a bizarre translation by one Erich Emmanuel-Schmidt that transforms what is essentially a duet with two thankless supporting roles into a full-blown quartet. This Happy Breed is being revived this year, too, in fact I will be taking my place in the audience in just a few hours from now. Not, alas, in a beautiful theatre like Edouard VII but a much more prosaic Community Theatre in North London. This was Coward's second stab at a celebration of his native land, he had done it on a much grander scale a decade earlier in Cavalcade but that time around he had opted for the upstairs/downstairs aspect and given us a panorama stretching from the Boer War to the end of the twenties - he had also, in passing, given us one of his best ever songs, 20th Century Blues, but this time he was content to concentrate on Mr and Mrs Joe Soap in the shape of Frank and Ethel Gibbons, their three children, Vi, Reg and Queenie, Frank's mother-in-law, Mrs. Flint and Ethel's sister, Sylvia. I'm somewhat startled that in reading two resume's and one review in these pages no one mentioned the obvious: EVERYONE has a family with some, if not all, of those elements; what Coward has done, and done superbly, like the consummate craftsman he was, is to give us a metaphor for England. During the course of the action - approximately one decade from 1919 to 1939 - The Gibbons endure highs and lows, births, marriages, and, yes, deaths. We should not lose sight of the fact that Coward wrote this on the eve of World War II and his clear intention was to buck up English spirits and remind us that we can take anything that fate, life, or Adolf Shickelgreuber can throw at us. The performances throughout are magnificant, Robert Newton is a revelation in the role Coward wrote for himself, as is Celia Johnson in a complete volte-face of her Laura in Coward's own 'Brief Encounter' for which she will be remembered as long as movies are shown. But they are just the two best-known players in an exceptional cast; John Mills and Kay Walsh were, by then, emerging as major players but we must not overlook the Mrs Flint of Amy Veness, the snivelling Sylvia of Alison Leggatt, the quiet dependability of Eileen Erskine's Vi nor the two other juveniles, John Blyth as Reg and Guy Verney as Sam Leadbitter, who comes to lead Reg astray and stays to settle down with Vi. This is a superb portrait of a family who is also a nation, muddling through the ups and downs of existence. 10/10

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