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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 H.M.S. Torrin, is told in flashbacks by survivors as they cling to a life raft.

Directors:

Noël Coward (as Noel Coward), David Lean

Writer:

Noël Coward (by) (as Noel Coward)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Noël Coward ... Capt. E.V. Kinross R.N. - Captain 'D' (as Noel Coward)
John Mills ... Ordinary Seaman Shorty Blake
Bernard Miles ... Chief Petty Officer Walter Hardy
Celia Johnson ... Mrs. Alix Kinross
Kay Walsh ... Freda Lewis
Joyce Carey ... Mrs. Kath Hardy
Derek Elphinstone Derek Elphinstone ... No. 1
Michael Wilding ... Flags
Robert Sansom Robert Sansom ... Guns
Philip Friend ... Torps
Chimmo Branson Chimmo Branson ... Midshipman
Ballard Berkeley ... Engineer Commander
Hubert Gregg ... Pilot
James Donald ... Doc
Michael Whittaker Michael Whittaker ... Sub
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Storyline

This is the story of a British Naval ship, H.M.S. 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 Motion Picture Of Our Time! [USA Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hidalgos de los mares See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£240,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$450,000, 3 February 1943
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Sound System)

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Anderson, who plays Albert Fosdike (billed as "Mickey Anderson"), was the First Assistant Director, but "won" the part when the original actor, William Hartnell, turned up late for his first day of shooting. Noël Coward berated Hartnell in front of cast and crew for his unprofessionalism, and then fired him. Anderson, who'd filled in for Hartnell while they'd rehearsed, got his moment of glory (once a false moustache had been found). 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]
Narrator: [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

Referenced in Star Stories: The Wife's Life (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Beer Barrel Polka (aka Roll Out the Barrel)
(uncredited)
Music by Jaromir Vejvoda
Lyrics by Wladimir A. Timm (song Skoda lásky)
English lyrics by Lew Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The effect of war
18 June 2007 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Naval men watch their ship sink as they cling to a raft and remember the lives they left in "In Which We Serve," a 1942 film starring Noel Coward, John Mills, Celia Johnson, and Bernard Miles. The story takes place in World War II and shows how the war affected the British soldiers and their loved ones. Noel Coward also wrote and co-directed this film with David Lean. Like Coward's Brief Encounter, there are no glamorous movie star types. This is the story of the common man bound together by war and by their ship. Coward is Captain Kinross, who has a wife (Celia Johnson) and two children. John Mills is "Shorty," a seaman who falls in love while on leave, gets married and has a short honeymoon. Bernard Miles is Walter Hardy, a happily married man whose wife hates having him go away. Each man reflects on his story in flashback.

The impact of "In Which We Serve" must have been very powerful when it was first released. The announcement of war by the Prime Minister which comes over the radio is met with a chilling silence that the audience feels along with the men. The devastation of a blackout, the impact of the bombs at sea are very real.

"In Which We Serve" is the story of a ship, the HMS Torrin, but we learn quickly that a ship is about its people, united in one cause and who share a special camaraderie. The captain's final speech to his men is highly emotional, all the more so because it is so restrained.

All of the acting is top-notch. Someone commented that Coward seemed stiff. I think his role called for a certain formality. Hard to believe John Mills was ever that young. Celia Johnson, in her first film role, is wonderful. Coward obviously had no problems attracting the best actors to the film, as every person fits his or her role perfectly.

Like many classics, despite changes in film technique, the core story remains compelling, especially today with so many soldiers in Iraq. In one scene, the camera falls on some of the seamen as they go to their stations to do battle. Each man was carefully chosen to show his extreme youth. It was a terrible time for the world, but somehow the film is strangely uplifting. A no-miss.


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