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The Young Mr. Pitt (1942)

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

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Viscount Castlerosse (additional dialogue), Sidney Gilliat (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Donat ... William Pitt / The Earl of Chatham
Robert Morley ... Charles James Fox
Phyllis Calvert ... Eleanor Eden
John Mills ... William Wilberforce
Geoffrey Atkins Geoffrey Atkins ... William Pitt, as a boy
Jean Cadell Jean Cadell ... Mrs. Sparry
Raymond Lovell Raymond Lovell ... George the Third
Agnes Lauchlan Agnes Lauchlan ... Queen Charlotte (as Agnes Laughlin)
Felix Aylmer ... Lord North
Ian McLean Ian McLean ... Dundas
Max Adrian ... Richard Sheridan
A. Bromley Davenport A. Bromley Davenport ... Sir Evan Nepean
John Salew John Salew ... Smith
Herbert Lom ... Napoleon
Albert Lieven ... Talleyrand
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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:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 1942 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El joven Mr. Pitt See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

B.A.F. Sound System

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

 
A Lifetime of Service To His King And Country
1 February 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I finally got to see The Young Mr. Pitt, a film I had wanted to see for decades. Mainly because Robert Donat perfectly fit my conception of what William Pitt, the Younger was like. In that I was not disappointed, Pitt is definitely one of Donat's best screen performances.

William Pitt, the Younger 1759-1806 was the second son of William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. As he was the second son, he did not inherit the earldom, but he did inherit his father's name and in British history, he is probably one of the five greatest individuals ever to be their Prime Minister. And he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 24 and held that office for most of the rest of his life.

Although certain things were left out, what was in the film stuck pretty close to the facts. When Pitt turned 21 he entered Parliament in 1781 and the following year, Lord Frederick North, the Prime Minister who lost the American Revolution was finally kicked out. There was a bit of jockeying for power and several governments were formed over the next two years when George III got the idea to ask young Pitt to take the job. He managed to win the next elections and was master of Parliament the rest of his life. He also never lost the confidence of his sovereign.

Donat captures Pitt perfectly, his only vice was every now and then to drink a bit much. No cheap swill for him though, only the finest of wines did he occasionally overindulge in. His chaste behavior around Phyllis Calvert is also true, it's pretty much established the man was celibate all his life, probably due to a low sex drive, though that's not explicitly gone into.

Without family attachments, Pitt's whole life was devoted to the protection and governance of the United Kingdom. He saw the danger of radical Jacobinism from France to British society and the even greater menace of Napoleon Bonaparte. Like FDR and General George C. Marshall reaching down the ranks to get Dwight D. Eisenhower in World War II. Pitt was the man who found Horatio Nelson and gave him command of Great Britain's fleet and who responded with victories at Aboukir Bay and Trafalgar.

As Pitt was chaste and aesthetic, his great rival of the period Charles James Fox was a rake and a gambler. Robert Morley gives one of his greatest performances also suitably cast as Fox. My favorite moment in the film is after Aboukir Bay, Fox gets a brick thrown through his window while dining with four lovely young ladies. When one of them asks what this was, Morley drolly replies, 'the voice of public opinion.'

What makes that particular scene more effective is that the next scene cuts to demonstrations against Pitt, calling for a truce in the war. The fickle finger of public opinion very graphically demonstrated.

John Mills plays William Wilberforce of whom a film was made about last year to great acclaim. He was Pitt's devoted friend and ally, but Wilberforce's crusade to abolish slavery gets a brief mention in The Young Mr. Pitt and nothing more.

What gets no mention at all is King George, III's periods of insanity and the Prince Regent, later George IV is not a character here.

The film takes us up to Trafalgar. In real life Pitt died very soon after the battle of Austerlitz which left the United Kingdom bereft of continental allies for several years. Worn in body and spirit, sadly he died without knowing of Great Britain's eventual triumph over the force of despotism.

Of course the film was made while the United Kingdom was also going through a great trial against an even greater evil, with another resolute Prime Minister who devoted his heart and soul to his country's service and protection. I'm sure Winston Churchill saw the film as some propaganda against his critics, but I'm also sure that William Pitt the Younger was a role model for him.

As Pitt should be a role model for all who put country above all.


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