This Happy Breed
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2 D V D S E T
We are based in South London near Croydon, UK, and if preferred this item can be picked up by appointment. Just e-mail here. I also welcome the old fashioned cheque and po as it is cheaper to process and all orders are sent off same day as cheque received.
- Dvd Region: 2 Pal (UK & Europe)
- Certificate: U
- Language: English
- Running Time: 105 minutes
- Format: Colour
- No. of Discs: 2
- ISBN: 5027626271640
brand new-digital restoration
two South Banks Shows, including an extensive feature on David Lean's life and work
original theatrical trailer
restoration comparison featurette
commemorative booklet by noted British film historian Neil Sinyard
extensive stills gallery, including behind the scenes images
original pressbook and material in PDF format
- Released in the UK by Network.
Noel Cowardís celebration of the strength and humour of the British working class in times of crisis struck a resounding chord with viewing audiences when first released, and still does to this day. Chronicling the trials and tribulations of the Gibbons family from the end of World War One, Cowardís anthem to British resilience became the most successful film of 1944. This Happy Breed
was David Leanís first credit as a solo director and was the first in a string of worldwide hits for him and his distinctive visual style. Both Robert Newton (Odd Man Out) and Celia Johnson (Brief Encounter) preside over the ups and downs of their family with great humour and patience, ably supported by John Mills (The Way to the Stars)
and Stanley Holloway (My Fair Lady). This version of the film is taken from a brand-new HD digital restoration from the original film elements.
After the Great War, Frank returns to his wife and children. They move into a small house which is homely nonetheless and, from there,
Queenie, one of their daughters, goes to work in a beauty parlour, gets ideas above her station and runs off with a married man.
Phyllis, his other daughter, becomes happily married to Reg, but itís not long before that relationship ends in tragedy...
Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills and Stanley Holloway star in this famous British film triumph, which follows the fortunes of an ordinary family in the years between the wars. When Frank returns to his wife and family from fighting in the Great War, they move into a
modest new home (in Clapham) and try to build a future. An inspired collaboration between David Lean and Noel Coward, the film perfectly captures a bygone Britain, alas, never to return. The era would be but a rumour, a whisper, if it wasn't for films like this. If you live in a house like the Gibbons then think what the walls could you tell you, of the tumultous times of the 20th century (both great wars) and what they meant to individual families now but ghosts in the houses you now call your own.
The Robert Newton character eludes to the 'walls' and their secrets near the end of the film in a drinking scene with the Holloway character and, for me, it is the most profound moment in the film. He clumsily tries to find the words to articulate something deep - a clumsiness that I know all too well.
The home where the exteriors were filmed is still there to this day. It is Alderbrook Road, Clapham, South London and some of the iconic shots of the street can be seen if you go there and look towards the end of the street. But my question is this: I'm no historian but was this part of London ever 'working class'? I mean, the houses in this street would be now worth not much short of two million pounds so it's hard to comprehend it ever being anything but affluent especially as it is tucked so near to the splendours of Clapham Common (where the pond shots were filmed by the way).
Any historians out there I would like to ask when this transformation took place and when did the 'working class' move out? How could it change so completely? Please e-mail me here. It's kind of sad that such places have lost the original spirit of what they were built for.
The film itself is outstanding in all departments from Laurence Olivier's spoken introduction to the melancholy of departure at the end. There is a case for saying that Lean's early films surpass the epics of his later years which he is today most remembered for. Make no mistake without this, Brief Encounter, In Which We Serve, Blithe Spirit and the Dickens's classics then world cinema would sadly be bereft of its jewels in the crown.
There's also a surrealness to the piece. The colour is bright, giving it a dreamlike quality as though you are sleepwalking through history. Moreover as outstanding as the actors are it doesn't make sense and that gives it an unintentional edginess. By that I mean Celia Johnson in real life was younger than her potential son-in-law, John Mills and was only three years older than her daughter, Kay Walsh. Likewise Newton was only 6 years older than his daughter. So you watch them and they give outstanding performances but it is all just surreal.
I love that off-centredness.
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This Happy Breed Dvd
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