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The Winslow Boy (1948)

 -  Drama  -  6 June 1950 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 655 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 6 critic

In pre-WW1 England, a youngster is expelled from a naval academy over a petty theft, but his parents raise a political furor by demanding a trial.



(play), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Winslow Boy (1948)

The Winslow Boy (1948) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Basil Radford ...
Margaret Leighton ...
Kathleen Harrison ...
Francis L. Sullivan ...
Attorney General
Marie Lohr ...
Jack Watling ...
Walter Fitzgerald ...
Frank Lawton ...
Nicholas Hannen ...
Hugh Dempster ...
Agricultural Member
Evelyn Roberts ...
Hamilton MP
W.A. Kelley ...
Brian O'Rourke


In Edwardian England, a thirteen year-old cadet, Ronnie Winslow, is expelled from the naval academy at Osborne for stealing a seven shilling postal order. His father and sister become obsessed with proving his innocence at any cost to themselves, and turn the case into a national cause celebre. Written by David Levene <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




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Release Date:

6 June 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Winslow Boy  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Aubrey Mallalieu died before the release of the film . See more »


Version of Pojken Winslow (1959) See more »


All Things Bright and Beautiful
Lyrics by Cecil F. Alexander
Music by William H. Monk
Sung in the church
See more »

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User Reviews

An Exciting Movie, But Read The Play
30 September 2002 | by (Charlottesville, VA USA) – See all my reviews

This film adapts a play by Terence Rattigan, first staged in 1946. The author had a great story. An ordinary citizen battles the British government to gain a fair trial for his son, who has been expelled from a junior naval academy for the crime of stealing.

In the play, the father's crusade is important, but not the main dish. Rather, the focus is on the impact of the crusade on the boy's family circle, and how they respond. Every scene occurs within the home. The whole country may be arguing about the case, but the arguments we hear -- whether the boy is guilty; whether, even if innocent, his expulsion warrants so much fuss -- are made or quoted en famille.

This movie adaptation, on the contrary, moves out into the world where the public fight takes place: in the offices of naval officials, in the British House of Commons, and before the Lord Chief Justice. The approach is exciting, and makes it easy for the audience to follow the stages of the battle. A disadvantage is that it leaves less chance to experience what the play says about people and about life.

Usually, in dramas about battles for justice, a wrong has been done. The business of the action is to right the wrong. However, in Rattigan's play, it is never clear that a wrong has occurred. Although the play helps us believe that Ronnie Winslow did not cash a stolen money order as charged, at least one member of his family thinks he did, and no proof emerges that he did not.

If we assume he was innocent, did the degree of wrong to him warrant the battle waged, and the sacrifices it entailed? There is no indication of animus against Ronnie on the part of the academy, which had strong evidence for thinking him guilty. If their finding was incorrect, it seems a reasonable mistake. Moreover, the boy is happy in another school, and increasingly uninterested in the crusade. In these circumstances, how grave is the wrong? Does it justify the enormous public attention it receives, or the physical, social and financial costs to members of his family?

The play raises these questions stubbornly and extensively. That doesn't halt the action, which perseveres, as often in real life, toward a goal whose worth is uncertain. The movie, focused primarily on winning the battle, tends to pull away from the play's uncertainties. Nevertheless, in one respect it adds to them. When it takes us to court, it shows the family's lawyer running circles, fairly and unfairly, around the opposition. Is a battle for justice, unjustly waged, a battle for justice?

Robert Donat is very good as the family's forensic champion. I might have thought excellent, had I not been spoiled by Ian Richardson's superb (matchless? definitive?) performance of the role in a PBS broadcast of the intact play in 1988. As the father, Cedric Hardwicke is insufficiently forceful and expressive. Margaret Leighton as the daughter is pretty, but insubstantial. Neil North does well as the expelled boy. Cameo appearances by Cyril Ritchard and Stanley Holloway are fun.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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