P. Jacobs | “An Interesting Experiment Described,” Sight and Sound | 1945

this happy breed

Celia Johnson in This Happy Breed (1944)


G.T.C. Film Group, Sight and Sound, 14:54 (1945: July), p. 59.

P. Jacobs describes the result of his experiment. He took groups of teenage girl cadets to the movies, and discussed with them whether or not they gained anything from the cinema. Note his summary of the girls’ evaluation of This Happy Breed, especially how it relates to war, and Robert Newton. In particular, the girls see the description of the car accident as not properly belonging to the movie. [war and the garden] Additionally, they see the movie as specifically being apart from the many war films produced around the same time.

Excerpt:

“I started the Rickmansworth G.T.C. Film Group, because I wanted to find out whether the girls gained anything from going to the cinema, or if they merely went as an escapist pastime without using their sense of judgment. The majority of the 30 cadets all between 15 1/2 and 18 1/2, I discovered visit the cinema once a week, quite a number twice a week, and a few even more frequently. […] The following films were selected: This Happy Breed, Going My Way, Song of Bernadette and Rebecca. […]

The Discussion. General: It was generally considered a very good English film. The acting was marvellous, and the technicolour such that you could look at the film without getting eye-ache.

The voting on the film was as follows:– Outstanding – no votes; Very Good – 21 votes; Good – 4 votes; Fair – 1 vote.

Story: The film told the story of the everyday life of an ordinary family between the two Great Wars. Opinion was divided as to whether it was a true English home or not. Everything was too drab. This one family had more tragedy and trouble than any normal family of the time, and the scene where one of the daughters came and broke the news of the car accident was rather overdone.

The film pointed out how weak some people were prior to this War and how we have “pulled up our socks” now. Five cadets thought the film should have been brought up-to-date, to see what did actually happen to the family during the second Great War, particularly to the daughter, who went out to join her husband in Singapore. However, they came up against a powerful opposition. It was thought one of the main attractions of This Happy Breed was the fact that it was a change from the many war films. It was felt, it was not intended to join the ranks of the war films, and apart from that it had to finish somewhere, and the beginning of this war was an excellent point. […]

Robert Newton: The part of the father was played by Robert Newton. The majority thought he played the part very well, but two members thought he was just putting-on his accent and at times kept slipping in his speech.”

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