Taken from the BFI National Archive's 2008 restorations, The Criterion Collection presents David Lean Directs Noël Coward, a four-disc set that presents the first four films of the director's career where he had the good fortune to work with noted playwright Noël Coward. Each film is presented in 1.37:1 aspect ratio and with mono sound.
In Which We Serve (1942) was a project originated by Coward, who wanted to do something for the war effort when he stopped working for British Intelligence. He wrote, starred, and co-directed the film. The reason he shared duties on the latter was because although he knew he could handle the actors from his time directing theatre, he knew he needed assistance in other areas, such as the action scenes, so he brought in film editor David Lean. Using the sinking of the destroyer HMS Kelly during the Battle of Crete in 1941 as its basis, the film tells the story of HMS Torrin, placed in the same battle, and the men who sailed her. The extras include a new interview with Coward scholar Barry Day 16 min), who makes contribution on each disc; the making-of A Profile of In Which We Serve from 2000 (25 min); a 1969 audio recording (60 min) between cast member Richard Attenborough (Young Stoker) and Coward, and the trailer.
Coward produced Lean's This Happy Breed (1944), which was based on his 1939 play of the same name. It presents the story of working-class British family, The Gibbons, during the first two World Wars. They are comprised of Frank, his wife Ethel, their three children (Reg, Vi and Queenie), his widowed sister Sylvia and Ethel's mother. Over the course of the two decades, the Gibbons experience events unique to their time, such as the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, the General Strike of 1926 and the rise of Hitler, and those universal to all families, such as birth, marriage, and death. The extras are interviews with Day (15 min) and one with cinematographer of all four films Ronald Neame (44 min) from 2010, and trailers.