In Which We Serve
Director: Noël Coward and David Lean
Year Released: 1942
Skilled World War II propaganda by exceptional playwright Coward designed to stir up nationalist pride and help out the war effort (in fact, Winston Churchill himself recommended he make this film). Despite its existence as a recruiting tool (and an overly welcome one at that - Coward's leader is ready to be canonized and his men all but ready to pray to him), it's actually solid drama, relying heavily on flashback to tell the stories of several survivors from the destroyer HMS Torrin as they cling to the life raft while dodging gunfire from passing German planes and waiting for rescue (or death). I thought the technique would become tired after a while, but it succeeds in dividing its attention among a handful of characters rather evenly; Coward, hardly Bogartesque in real-life but confident as the captain, does all the jobs he assigned himself (co-director, writer and star) exceptionally well. Also there to help: some David Lean chap.