We Joined the Navy
Directed byWendy Toye
Written byHoward Dimsdale
Based onWe Joined the Navy by John Winton
Produced byDaniel M. Angel
Vivian Cox
StarringKenneth More
Lloyd Nolan
Joan O'Brien
CinematographyOtto Heller
Edited byRichard Best
Music byRon Grainer
Distributed byWarner-Pathé Distributors
Release date
  • 29 November 1962 (1962-11-29) (London)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

We Joined the Navy is a 1962 British comedy film directed by Wendy Toye and starring Kenneth More, Lloyd Nolan, Joan O'Brien, Derek Fowlds, Graham Crowden, Esma Cannon and John Le Mesurier. Produced by Daniel M. Angel, it was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by John Winton, a former Royal Navy lieutenant commander.

The film was shot on location in Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice and Monaco, on board the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and USS Springfield as well as at ABPC Elstree Studios.[1] The film's sets were designed by art director John Howell. It was shot in CinemaScope by cinematographer Otto Heller.

In addition to the credited cast, the film features uncredited cameos by Michael Bentine, Sidney James, Rodney Bewes and Dirk Bogarde (in a gag reference to his Doctor series role, Simon Sparrow).

Director Wendy Toye said "it was a fun film to do it really was, because it is always lovely to work with Kenny More, it always was. And Lloyd Nolan was such an excellent actor."[2]


Lieutenant Commander Robert Bollinger Badger, known everywhere in the Royal Navy as The Artful Bodger, is an excellent naval officer with one major problem: he speaks the truth at the most inopportune times. As a result, he is transferred to shore duty and then to instruct at the Royal Naval College. When his remarks are repeated by one of his students to the student's father, an anti-military member of Parliament, Badger has one last chance: he and three problem midshipmen are sent as exchange officers to the flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet. Their antics set back Anglo-American relations until they go ashore to a nation in the midst of a revolution.



The film was based on a 1959 novel by John Winton, a pseudonym for Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander John Pratt. The book was popular and led to a number of sequels including We Saw the Sea, Down the Hatch and Never go to Sea. In early 1959 producer Daniel Angel bought the film rights as a vehicle for Kenneth More.[3]

Angel was blacklisted by cinema chains in England for two years for selling his films to television. We Joined the Navy was his comeback film. "They held out longer than I thought they would," said Angel. "The reasons for the unbanning are unspecified. I was just made to understand that if I produced films, the exhibitors would consider showing them."[4]

In 1961 Daniel Angel signed a deal to produce a number of movies for Associated British of which this was to be the first (West 11 was the second).[5]

More made it after his attempts to star in a film based on the book White Rabbit fell through. He called We Joined the Navy "the funniest script I've ever read" and said "it will be the I'm Alright Jack of the navy."[6]

Filming started in Villefrance in the south of France on 1 May 1962 then continued at Elstree Studios. Toyes said Dirk Bogarde did a cameo as a favour to More and Danny Angel. "He was wonderful," said the director. "He came down, he only had had one very short scene to do, there were lots and lots of little cameo parts. And he never put a foot wrong, never had to have another tape, just came in and did it and had gone in about half an hour."[2]

It was Mischa Auer's first English language film in a number of years.[2]


The Guardian called it "a good romp".[7] Filmink argued the film "was lopsided: the action should focus on the new recruits but they have to share time with Kenneth More, who plays their officer." [8]

Toye later said "the first half" of the film with "the boys being at Dartmouth and then being accepted for the navy and taking their various jobs and being, they became the three midshipmen... all that worked splendidly." However she said in the second half "it all took a funny turn and it became a bit political and by that time the mood of the film was comedy and it just, I don’t think it worked really. But it was the most fantastic cast."[2]

Home video

A Region 2 DVD of We Joined the Navy was released by Network on 16 February 2015. The disc features a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kenneth More, More or Less, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1978, p.188
  2. ^ a b c d "Wendy Toyes interview" (PDF). British Entertainment History Project. 20 May 1991. Retrieved 8 March 2023.
  3. ^ Boyle, Paul (15 March 1959). "I Go Wild About Marty". Sunday Pictorial. p. 6.
  4. ^ "The banned major is back in business". Evening Standard. 13 April 1962. p. 10.
  5. ^ "ABPC-Angel Deal". Kine Weekly. 21 September 1961. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Kenneth More loses his dream film". Evening Standard. 19 January 1962. p. 10.
  7. ^ "Films reviewed". The Guardian. 7 January 1963. p. 8.
  8. ^ Vagg, Stephen (16 April 2023). "Surviving Cold Streaks: Kenneth More". Filmink.