Janet Leigh makes an impressive debut alongside Van Johnson in this historical romance in which a farmer's daughter falls in love with a man who fought against her family in the Civil War. ... See full summary »
This historical drama is an account of the early life of the future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Simon Ward), including his childhood, his time as a war correspondent in South Africa during the Second Boer War and culminating in his first election to Parliament.Written by
In the depiction of the Battle of Omdurman, the film states the famous charge of the 21st Lancers, which included Winston Churchill, happened the next day "during mopping up operations". In fact the charge happened on the same day as the main battle. See more »
Who's that bloody fool on the gray?
Someone who wants to be noticed, I should imagine.
He'll be noticed. He'll get his head blown off.
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Young Winston is based on Winston Churchill's early life from childhood until his first speech in Parliament circa 1901. I well remember when Sir Winston Churchill gave up that seat in 1961. Except for two years in the Twenties it's the longest tenure in the British House of Commons and I was 14 at that time.
Carl Foreman's screenplay and Richard Attenborough's direction were no doubt tempered with some historic reading about Winston Churchill's early years. What you see here is the standard interpretation given to those years and how they shaped him personally and the views he had on various issues.
Churchill was the eldest of two boys born to Randolph Churchill and his American wife Jennie Jerome as played by Robert Shaw and Anne Bancroft. While Shaw was busy on a political career and Bancroft being the social toast of two continents, Young Winston who grew up to be Simon Ward was a lonely kid who was mostly raised by a favored governess.
Randolph Churchill's rise was dramatically cut short in the late 1880s when it was discovered he had the dread syphilis, a social disease not mentioned in polite society. He continued to serve in Parliament with rapidly decreasing health and influence. It was only then that Shaw and Ward begin something of a relationship, cut too short when Randolph Churchill dies in 1895. He died thinking that his son would never amount to much and Churchill spent his whole life trying to prove his disappointed father wrong.
In that he became a young man in a hurry as he tries by every means available to make a name for himself in the process stepping on a lot of important toes. He'd continue to do that his whole life also as he sought to preserve the British Empire as it was in his formative years.
His army commission got him participation in the Sudanese War of the last cavalry charge of the British army at Omdurman. While using his mother's charm and influence to get himself a rather unique status as both army officer and war correspondent, he got captured by the Boers in that war. His dramatic escape provided a media opportunity as they would say no and made his election to Parliament in 1901 possible after sustaining a couple of losses.
Robert Shaw, Anne Bancroft, and Simon Ward are perfectly cast. Shaw's best moment comes during a speech to an almost empty Parliament when you can see the ravages of the disease and what they've done to Randolph Churchill. With both Bancroft and Ward in attendance, it's pitiful to watch.
Attenborough populated the rest of his cast with some talented folks like Sir John Mills as Lord Kitchener, some very prominent toes that Churchill stepped on and a young Anthony Hopkins as David Lloyd George who Bancroft warns her son against associating with that man. In fact much after the events of this film conclude, Churchill's association with Lloyd George proved to be a mixed blessing for the rest of his life.
Young Winston is both a faithful adaptation of Churchill's own memoirs as interpreted by others and a grand historical pageant of the time the sun was not setting on an Empire some thought would last forever. Among those were the subject of this film.
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