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The Young Mr. Pitt (1942)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 125 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 1 critic

This biopic tells the story of the life of Pitt The Younger, who became Prime Minister of Great Britain at the age of 24.

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(additional dialogue), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Phyllis Calvert ...
Eleanor Eden
...
Geoffrey Atkins ...
Jean Cadell ...
Mrs. Sparry
Raymond Lovell ...
Agnes Lauchlan ...
Queen Charlotte (as Agnes Laughlin)
Felix Aylmer ...
Ian McLean ...
Dundas
Max Adrian ...
A. Bromley Davenport ...
Sir Evan Nepean
John Salew ...
Smith
...
Albert Lieven ...
Tallerand
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Storyline

William Pitt the Younger, son of a famous politician father, becomes the youngest Prime Minister England has ever known, wins an election on the promise of peace and prosperity, yet ironically ends up as the presiding spirit of an interminable war with Revolutionary France. Both his health and his private life suffer from the strain... Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 1942 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El joven Mr. Pitt  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Donat wanted Rosamund John to play the role of Eleanor Eden, eventually played by Phyllis Calvert See more »

Connections

Referenced in Millions Like Us (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

A Life on the Ocean Wave
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Louis Levy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ambitious but entertaining
28 August 2006 | by (England) – See all my reviews

Only in England, surely, would anyone set out to make a propaganda movie by quoting verbatim from 18th-century Parliamentary proceedings..!

Admittedly -- as shown in the sequences where Robert Donat, as the eponymous Prime Minister, is howled down in the House of Commons -- the gentlemen of that era did not always mince their words. Still, in common with so many other famous British propaganda products of the time -- "A Matter of Life and Death", "In Which We Serve", "Pimpernel Smith", "49th Parallel" -- "The Young Mr Pitt" is a sophisticated and amazingly literate piece of work: no cheap bashing of the enemy, no sentimental romanticising of the fickle mob, no principle or personage too elevated to bear a little gentle mockery. The film's subject is presented in a manner arguably verging on hagiography (Pitt is Right, Fox is Wrong, and the former has no vices beyond a tendency to self-sacrifice)... and yet it has no qualms, for example, in counterpointing Robert Donat's great patriotic speech towards the end of the film with images of Members of Parliament yawning or exchanging long-suffering glances as he orates. By refusing to treat itself with blind veneration, it creates a depth of subtlety that stands up well in its own right so many years later, where simple-minded tub-thumping would long since have become merely embarrassing.

The script is surprisingly funny, and often sparkles: when a naval official complains that he feels more at home at sea than in politics, Pitt returns the swift quip that his rival Fox will soon feel all at sea at home. We are introduced to the King known to history as 'Farmer George' over a bowl of home-grown royal turnips, and treated to the spectacle of the Prime Minister caught out by some very important guests in mid-pillow-fight with the children of his host. By leavening its message with humour, it humanises a potentially heavy-handed political slant.

It is, of course, a one-man show, and Robert Donat proves fully equal to the task. He begins the film portraying Pitt the Elder in old age, and then develops the title character from one mocked for his youth to the sick and prematurely aged man of the final reels; and does it without overwhelming awareness of cosmetic wizardry, and with the benefit of a pair of fine expressive eyes. John Mills has the somewhat thankless role of playing reformer William Wilberforce in what is essentially the role of hero's sidekick, the ever-present character to whom Pitt can voice his plans and dilemmas for the audience's benefit. Albert Lieven is memorable as the devious Talleyrand, and Leslie Bradley and Roy Emerton make an impression in the early part of the film as the famous heavyweights of the bare-knuckle boxing era, Mendoza and 'Gentleman' Jackson.

Featuring cameo scenes for characters ranging from Lord Nelson to Danton, the film is inevitably a quick canter through the relevant history. It doesn't pretend to be a deep political analysis of the period. But as a flag-waver it aims high, and compared to your average Hollywood 'biopic' it is quality entertainment. I saw this as the fourth film at the end of a hectic day, and even under such circumstances it stood out as a more ambitious vehicle than the -- perfectly enjoyable -- rest.

It doesn't have the complexity of a great picture. But it benefits fully from the restraint and talent of its era.


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