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Roy William Neill
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Biopic of the famed British Prime Minister focusing on his concern about Russia's growing interest in the Indian subcontinent and his attempts to buy the Suez Canal. He sees the Canal as the key strategic resource in maintaining the Empire in the East but is unpopular in many quarters. With antisemitism rife at the time, Disraeli finds little support for his plan to purchase the canal or his foreign policy in general. There is no doubt that the Russians are plotting against British interests and he is surrounded by spies, even in his office at 10 Downing St. When the Bank of England refuses to finance the purchase of the available shares he turns to private sources to raise the available cash only to find the conspirators one step ahead of him. Written by
"Disraeli" is a fictional story about Benjamin Disraeli's efforts to have the Suez Canal (called "a ditch covered in sand" by a skeptic) purchased for Britain. The story has a number of interesting turns as Disraeli's aspirations are antagonized by people around him, including Russian spies. There are great moments of tension when it seems Disraeli's aspirations have become impossible or other times such as when he receives a telegram near the end of the film regarding his wife's health. Whether or not you agree with Disraeli's imperialist aspirations, you will find yourself engrossed in Disraeli's struggle and hoping for his success.
The film features a solid cast, but the focal point of the film is George Arliss' portrayal of Disraeli. Arliss gives an excellent performance in all aspects: the speech, mannerisms and even the look of Disraeli. Today Disraeli is well known for is witty repartee, and this film includes that with a number of humorous lines from Disraeli. It also shows Disraeli as a forceful man of conviction that relentlessly pursues his design to purchase the Suez Canal despite skepticism and even prejudice against him for being Jewish. "Disraeli" is worth seeing for George Arliss' strong performance as Benjamin Disraeli and its engaging story.
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