As a director, David Lean's first intention was always to tell a story, few directors were as able to convey the spirit of a place on film. Surprising the audience was very important to David Lean, whether it was Pip rushing straight into Magwitch in the graveyard in Great Expectations or Harold Hobson drunkenly pursuing the moon in a puddle in Hobson's Choice, Lean conjured up image after image to amaze, amuse, move or excite his audience.
The Sound Barrier (1952): A tale of male courage and an adventure into the unknown, but also the story of the women who wait at home. A self-made aircraft manufacturer is determined that his company will be the first to build a plane which flies faster than sound.
Hobson's Choice (1954): The eldest daughter of an alcoholic, self-important Lancashire bootmaker marries his boot-hand and sets up a rival business.
Blithe Spirit (1945): A happily married author writing a novel on mediums, invites one to supper one evening. After holding a seance, the husband's deceased first wife appears and begins to cause chaos!
Brief Encounter (1946): Noel Coward's sensitive portrayal of what happens when two happily married strangers, played by Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, meet and their acquaintance deepens into affection and eventually into love. It is the story of two people, thrown together by the chance meeting of the title, helpless in the face of their emotions but redeemed by their moral courage.
Great Expectations (1946): A stylish film presentation of Charles Dickens' heart warming story of a young man befriending an escaped convict who becomes his unknown benefactor, and of the consequences for the young man as he establishes himself in the world.
Oliver Twist (1948): Oliver Twist, orphaned at birth and raised in the workhouse, is expelled for daring to ask the Beadle for more food. Unhappily apprenticed to an Undertaker, Oliver escaped to London, where he meets the cheeky Artful Dodger, the villainous Fagin, the aggressive Bill Sykesand the kindly but doomed Nancy. Torn constantly between the forces of good and evil, Oliver eventually seals his fate by picking the pocket of a rich gentleman.
Madeleine (1950) Lean's accomplished film of the famous Scottish Madeleine Smith case in which a woman from a wealthy family is accused of the murder of her lover.
The Passionate Friends (1949): Through her marriage to a wealthy financier, Mary Justin has the freedom and comfort she has always yearned for, but her life is one that lacks emotional fulfilment. On a visit to Switzerland she runs into an old friend, Steven Stratton, with whom she once had a passionate love affair, many years before her marriage. Her meeting with Steven rekindles old memories of a friendship of the most beautiful kind.
This Happy Breed (1944): A splendidly acted classic portraying how an ordinary British family lived between the wars. Just after WWI the Gibbons family moves to a nice house in the suburbs. The inhabitants of 17 Sycamore Road are ordinary people, with their irritable in-laws, their just-plain-folks camaraderie, and their unshakeable belief that no matter how hard the times are, Mother England is forged of good stock and common sense will somehow prevail.
In Which We Serve (1942): The story of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Torrin and those that serve in her. In the Battle of Crete she is dive-bombed while streaming at thirty knots and goes down fighting. We see, through the memories of her survivors, the ordeals, achievements and gallantry of HMS Torrin from her commissioning until she sinks in her last battle.