158. In Which We Serve (1942)

Film 64 in C4 Top 100 War Films

Ultimately a vanity project for Noel Coward, as he wrote, produced, directed and acted in this war-time propaganda film, In Which We Serve is the story of a ship, and the men who serve on her.

The ship is torpedoed, and each surviving man tells the story of how he happened to be on board – Coward’s captain, the chief petty officer played by Bernard Miles, and ordinary seaman John Mills. Meanwhile, the men are still being shot at as they hold on to a life-belt.

It’s dated very badly – I found it patronising, sentimental and stiff upper-lipped. It’s also tediously boring and with only a couple of exceptions, I felt no connection with the characters. But it gets an extra point for John Mills being called ‘Shorty’, but loses another because there weren’t any of the promised sharks. But then that probably wouldn’t have encouraged young men to sign up for the Navy.


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