“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;”*

*William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (1599).

From: Noel Coward – a Biography (1995), by Philip Hoare:

“…the scenario for In Which We Serve (1942): adventure, a patriotic tribute and a panegyric to his favourite service rolled into one…

…Coward realised that he did not know how films were made. He asked Ronald Neame, whose work he had seen and liked, to be the lighting-cameraman, and expressed a further need for someone to ‘hold my hand…to be my right hand man’. Thus began Coward’s fruitful relationship with David Lean…

…An attractive character, thirty-three, handsome and always elegantly dressed, Lean’s contribution was vital to Coward’s work in the 1940s.

…Official encouragement for the project also came from Sidney Bernstein, now Films Adviser to the Ministry of Information…With heavyweights such as Bernstein and Mountbatten behind him, Coward felt reassured that the film would receive its proper treatment.

…In January 1942 Coward and Gladys Calthrop (Art Supervisor on the film) leased neighbouring cottages close to Denham Studios.

…The shooting of In Which We Serve began on 5 February…(Anthony) Havelock-Allan (on) Coward’s decision to play Captain Kinross: it was ‘a measure of his skill as an actor, he was able to play lots of parts for which he was totally unsuited…’

…The fact that Coward was not classically handsome did not matter: the effect was of someone undeniably attractive, and important…

…(Coward) gave full credit to David Lean…

Coward felt sufficiently proud of his work on In Which We Serve to invite the royal family to visit the set…

Below: Noel Coward introduces to the Royal Family (2:44) David Lean and Ronald Neame, (4:29) John Mills and Bernard Miles, (10:17) ?Michael Wilding.

…it was his first film effort…it was his tribute to the Royal Navy…it was his contribution to the war effort…Its success was confirmed in 1943, when Coward was awarded a special Academy Award for ‘outstanding production achievement’, his first and only Oscar…

After the success of In Which We Serve, the Lean/Havelock-Allan/Neame team, now working as Cineguild, proposed that they continue the successful and profitable working relationship with Coward. ‘Noel Coward was very generous’, Lean said. ‘He didn’t really enjoy film direction. He liked writing and acting best, and by the time In Which We Serve was finished he said, “Well dear boy, you can take anything I write and make a film of it.”’ It was decided to film Blithe Spirit and This Happy Breed, which was in production by spring 1943.

…Brief Encounter dealt with a near-scandalous theme for its time; indeed, Cineguild were apprehensive about the film being passed by the British Board of Film Censors…As with earlier Coward works, the film escaped censorship because of its moral resolution; it was passed uncut in September 1945.”

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