Brown on Resolution (film)

Brown on Resolution (US title – Born for Glory; UK re-issue title – Forever England) is a 1935 film adaptation of the C. S. Forester novel Brown on Resolution. The plot is centred on the illegitimate son of a British naval officer singlehandedly bringing about the downfall of a German cruiser during World War I. The title role is played by John Mills, his first lead role, and it is also notable for being the first film to use actual Royal Navy ships.

Brown on Resolution
VHS cover of the re-issue
Directed byWalter Forde
Anthony Asquith
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byJ. O. C. Orton
Michael Hogan
Gerard Fairlie
Based onnovel by C. S. Forester
StarringJohn Mills
Betty Balfour
Barry MacKay
Jimmy Hanley
Music byLouis Levy
CinematographyBernard Knowles
Edited byOtto Ludwig
Distributed byGaumont British Picture Corporation
Release date
15 May 1935 (UK)
19 October 1935 (USA)
Running time
70 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Forever England redirects here – the phrase is also a quotation from Rupert Brooke's poem "The Soldier".

The novel was also later adapted as Sailor of the King (also titled Single-Handed in the US, and sometimes – though rarely – Brown on Resolution), in 1953. The 1935 version retains the novel's original World War I setting, but in the 1953 remake, the setting is realistically updated to the Second World War, as the Germans resumed commerce raiding with surface warships in 1939.


In 1893, Betty Brown meets a debonair young naval officer and falls in love. She conceals her pregnancy from him, and he rejoins his ship. The boy, Albert Brown, is brought up by his mother and joins the navy as soon as he is old enough.

Brown's ship is posted to the Pacific during the First World War. He is marooned on the remote Galápagos island of Resolution when the cruiser he is serving on, HMS Rutland, is sunk. A German battlecruiser (the fictitious SMS Zeithen[1]) takes him prisoner whilst it defeats an inferior British force. It then suffers damage in a second encounter and her captain plans to pull into an isolated Pacific anchorage to try to repair his vessel. There, the resourceful Brown escapes, steals a rifle and a small amount of ammunition, and makes his way ashore.

The German vessel's main battery cannot be brought to bear on Brown, and he is able to pick off exposed crewmen trying to repair her punctured hull plates. The anchorage is an impenetrable tangle of scrub and thorn bushes, making it difficult for shore parties to run him to ground.

Brown is eventually killed by a German shot, never learning that his actions delayed the repairs long enough for the raider's British pursuers to catch her up and destroy her. The German captain, now a prisoner, reveals who delayed him. The British erect a cross on the highest point on the island to commemorate him, and the commander of the British ship discovers that Brown was his illegitimate son.



In July 1933 Gaumont British announced they would make a film of the novel.[2] Production was delayed as the studio negotiated with the Admiralty for co operation.[3] In November the studio announced it would make the film as part of their next line up of projects.[4] In January 1934 Walter Forde was announced as director.[5]

By June 1934 the film had still not been made. The Admiralty had given some indication they would co operate but Sir William Fisher, Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, was unhappy at the thought of British sailors playing Germans in the film, thinking it would be bad for morale.[6]

In July Gaumont announced the role of the mother would be played by Betty Balfour, a silent film star who had recently made a comeback in Evergreen.[7]

In October the Admiralty agreed to cooperate.[8] The "German raider Zeithen" was played by British C-class cruiser HMS Curacoa; "Second-class cruiser HMS Rutland" was played by destroyer leader HMS Broke, and "Armoured Cruiser HMS Leopard" by the new Leander-class cruiser HMS Neptune (29.31.53). This was the first time that the Royal Navy had co-operated with a film company to this extent, (though Sergei Eisenstein had had the use of Soviet Russian naval vessels for his film Battleship Potemkin in 1925).

The battleship Iron Duke would be filmed at Portsmouth; the Curacoa at Mullion Cove Cornwall; the cruiser Neptune at Invergordon and at sea; Broke and the flotilla would be shot at sea. The Admiralty also allowed filming at the Gunnery School, Whale Island and the Boys Training Establishment at Gosport. Filming began in Portsmouth. John Mills, who had been in Britannia of Billingsgate was cast in the lead. His friend was played by Jimmy Hanley.[9] Studio filming took place at Shepherd's Bush.[10]

The cast included war hero Henry Hugh Gordon Stoker. He had been in a production of Journey's End with Mills.[11]

At one stage the title of the film was going to be "Forever England" based on a line from the Rupert Brooke poem "The Soldier". It was feared that "Brown on Resolution" might be too confusing. But this was the title eventually used.[12]

The film was shown privately to the King of England.[13]


The New York Times called it "good hearty entertainment in the Rover Boy tradition."[14]


  1. Played by HMS Curacoa, which sank on 2 October 1942 after being cut in half by Queen Mary while on escort duties.
  2. ""CHU CHIN CHOW."". The West Australian. XLIX, (9, 691). Western Australia. 21 July 1933. p. 2. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. "Film fan fare". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 28 October 1933. p. 6 (LATEST FINAL CABLES). Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "New Films Today: British Production Programme Announced". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 18 November 1933. p. 21. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "FEATURES OF LATEST FILM RELEASES". Weekly Times (3461). Victoria, Australia. 27 January 1934. p. 24. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "AS FRITZ?". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 27 June 1934. p. 7 (LATE CITY). Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  7. LATEST NEWS AND GOSSIP OF BRITAIN'S FILM STARS Los Angeles Times 7 July 1934: 7.
  8. "Behind the Screen". Sunday Mail (594). Queensland, Australia. 14 October 1934. p. 32. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "ADMIRALTY'S HELP". The Evening News (4046). Queensland, Australia. 18 October 1934. p. 9. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "Behind the Screen". Sunday Mail (596). Queensland, Australia. 28 October 1934. p. 32. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "ADVENTURES OF ACTOR". The Sun (1689). Sydney. 11 August 1935. p. 23. Retrieved 15 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "BROWN ON RESOLUTION". The Herald (18, 009). Victoria, Australia. 2 February 1935. p. 33. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "Letter From London". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 1 June 1935. p. 9. Retrieved 2 November 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  14. 'Born to Glory,' a British Melodrama of the War at Sea in 1914, at the Globe Theatre. By ANDRE SENNWALD.. New York Times 21 Oct 1935: 22.
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