This Happy Breed

1944 | Drama | 115 minutes | English


It’s 1919, shortly after the end of the First World War, and the Gibbons family is settling in their rented home in Clapham, South London. The household includes Frank, his wife Ethel, daughters Reg, Vi, and Queenie, and Ethel’s mother. Frank is delighted that his next-door neighbor is Bob Mitchell, a drinking buddy from his army days. As the children grow up, the family adapts to life in the peacetime country. But this is short-lived. As London is swept in the Jazz Age, a threatening fascist, Adolph Hitler, begins to emerge in Germany. The  British Union of Fascists stir up pro-Hitler sentiments and anti-Semitism. When Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returns from Munich proclaiming success and “Peace in our time,” the country is euphoric, except for Frank, who fears the worst. Vi and Queenie are now married; Reg, tragically is killed in an auto accident; and Ethel’s mother passed away. The home is now empty, except for Frank and Ethel. They reminisce about the life they spent in this house as they await the movers to take them to a smaller apartment.    

Robert Newton (Frank Gibbons) / Celia Johnson (Ethel Gibbons) / Stanley Holloway (Bob Mitchell)
Why Stream This Film?
Moss Hart, director of My Fair Lady, spent long days working with Julie Andrews until she got the part right. When the show opened to spectacular reviews,  Hart remarked, “After directing Julie Andrews, I don’t know how the British lost their Empire.” Second best, is to see this film. You’ll have the same admiration for the British as Mr. Hart did back then. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Best Actress (Celia Johnson)
  • The film received a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score.
THIS HAPPY BREED is Noel Coward’s and David Lean’s proud and loving tribute to the unbreakable British backbone.
James Agee

TIME Magazine

This is an immensely charming movie with many tears and many moments of warmth.
TV GUIDE staff



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