This Happy Breed (1944)

February 24th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: David Lean | Cast: Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, John Mills, Kay Walsh, Amy Veness, Stanley Holloway | UK Drama 115′

Unfazed by the complexities of filming in Technicolor in wartime Britain, David Lean commences with a graceful glide in through a window (probably pinched by Hitchcock for the opening shot of Psycho) movingly reversed in the final shot twenty years later.

Not just unusual for its realistic colour the opening scene the feature also uses sound to convincingly evoke the emptiness of the house the family have just arrived in, with the effect repeated as the house is emptied when they prepare to move out at the end. Likewise the camera moves across the sitting room when the parents receive catastrophic news offscreen, while all you hear is jaunty music on the radio in another exemplary combination of image and sound. A shot that, by the way, required Lean’s crew to commandeer every arc light in the studio to facilitate – in colour – the depth of focus required. @RichardChatten

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