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Gregory La Cava
In 1875 London, young Wheeler (who lives by scavenging) finds a cameo of Queen Victoria which he thinks so beautiful he risks his life to save it. Possessed of a desire to see the Queen, he slips past the Beefeaters and wanders about Windsor Castle, just when a state dinner is in preparation. Meanwhile, prime minister Disraeli is struggling hard to persuade the Queen to end her long seclusion Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A fine film that is mainly forgotten but still worth seeing, it deals with a homeless boy in Victorian London (1876) who rubs shoulders with two of the leading figures of the time Queen Victoria and Benjamin Disraeli.
A heart-warming story of historical fiction, it displays the formidable acting talent of Irene Dunne and Alex Guinness. Disreali's audience with the Queen at the start draws us into the main themes of the movie. Andrew Ray, as the boy, is exceptional. The great character actor Finlay Currie plays the role of the Queen's friend John Brown, a crusty, boozy Scot and a close companion of the Queen, who takes a personal interest in the boy. (The character of John Brown was also the subject of the movie from the 1990's - Mrs. Brown, played by Dame Judi Dench.)
The role of the mudlarka child who scavenges on the banks of the Thames is played by Andrew Ray. It was while doing this,that he found a cameo of the Queen. Illiterate and poverty-stricken, he knows nothing about the Queen but when he finds out who she is, he wants to meet her. The discovery of the child during a banquet at Windsor Castle becomes a national story, in which the Prime Minister (Alex Guinness as Disraeli) uses the issue to underscore the need for social reform and to thus win support for his government's program. The speech in the House of Commons is a high point in the movie, as is the widowed Queen's encounter with the boy near the end of the film.
Colourful conversations between Alex Guinness (Disraeli) and Findlay Currie (John Brown) add sparkle to the film as does a well-lubricated Brown as he takes the boy on a tour of the castle.
At the end, Disraeli and Brown, totally different in character, are drawn together by their love of the monarch. The widowed monarch, at first alarmed by the boy's stealing into her private residence, is moved by a second encounter when she learns that he merely wanted to see her. This also suited the Prime Minister's purpose of giving the monarch confidence to come out of seclusion.
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