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The Gathering Storm (1974)

The story of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, focusing on his place in British life just prior to World War II.

Director:

Herbert Wise

Writers:

Winston Churchill (book), Colin Morris (screenplay)
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Winston Churchill's years prior to the Second World War, when only he could see the threat that Adolf Hitler and a rearmed Germany posed to Europe.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Winston Churchill
Virginia McKenna ... Clementine Churchill
Angharad Rees ... Sarah Churchill
Lesley Dunlop ... Mary Churchill
Clive Francis ... Randolph Churchill
Thorley Walters ... Stanley Baldwin
Robin Bailey Robin Bailey ... Neville Chamberlain
Robert Beatty ... Lord Beaverbrook
Michael Elwyn ... Anthony Eden
Ian Bannen ... Adolf Hitler
Robert Hardy ... Joachim von Ribbentrop
Geoffrey Bayldon ... Kurt von Schuschnigg
Steve Plytas Steve Plytas ... Maisky
Ian Ogilvy ... Edward VIII
Denis Lill Denis Lill ... George VI (as Dennis Lill)
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Storyline

The story of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, focusing on his place in British life just prior to World War II.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 November 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Gathering Storm (#24.2) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Burton wrote in an article: "In the course of preparing myself ... I realized afresh that I hate Churchill and all of his kind. I hate them virulently. They have stalked down the corridors of endless power all through history ... What man of sanity would say on hearing of the atrocities committed by the Japanese against British and Anzac prisoners of war, 'We shall wipe them out, every one of them, men, women, and children. There shall not be a Japanese left on the face of the earth.'? Such simple-minded cravings for revenge leave me with a horrified but reluctant awe for such single-minded and merciless ferocity." See more »

Quotes

Winston Churchill: No British government could so disinterest itself in the fortunes of the continent so as to allow Germany to dominate Central and Eastern Europe - of that much I can assure you.
Joachim von Ribbentrop: In that case war is inevitable. The Fuhrer is resolved. Nothing will stop him.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Gathering Storm (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 3
(uncredited)
Music by Camille Saint-Saëns
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User Reviews

 
Concise
7 November 2014 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

I'm tempted to put a check mark in the spoilers' box because I suspect the outcome of this historical tale will be news to many Americans, especially the young ones, a substantial percentage of whom believe that World War II teamed up America and Germany in a war against the USSR. One in five of us can't name the country we achieved our independence from. (Wrong answers on that 2011 poll included Mexico and China.) And here we have the story of a man named Winston Churchill (Burton), entangled in a tar baby of crucial decisions involving countries and parts of countries (eg., the Sudetenland) that nobody has ever heard of.

Yes, I think this will be news to many people. If that's the case, it might better have been presented as a documentary with a narration and lots and lots of colorful maps with moving arrows and other glitzy graphics. "Poland? You mean as in Poland Springs Water?" It's unfair to the unknowing to hear Churchill making a brief, one- or two-sentence description of Norway being a passageway for Sweden's steel shipments to Germany, and a cut to Churchill's wife (McKenna) holding a newspaper whose lead says something about an attack on Norway. I just don't know how many of us are ready to make that cognitive leap.

As Churchill, Burton does a pretty good job of imitating Churchill's public voice, although when he becomes angry he brays. He gives us a gruff Churchill, whose only humor is expressed through sarcastic insults toward his fellow pols, the foreign office, and Herr Hitler.

The Germans are no more than stereotypes. Von Ribbentrop (Hardy) is one of those smilers with a knife. I'm afraid Ian Bannen -- a fine, innovative actor -- is lost in the role of Hitler. He looks and sounds like Ian Bannen with a mustache and a funny haircut. Neville Chamberlain is played as a weakling and a fool by Bailey, although Churchill gets to mouth some sensible words in his defense.

Nobody ever claimed that Neville Chamberlain was a tower of strength and resolve, but I've always thought he got a bad rap on Munich. He came home with a treat signed by Herr Hitler promising that no more territory would be bothered by the Nazis, which is exactly what the wary British people wanted. What else could he have done? Would he have prevented World War II by declaring war on the spot? Chamberlain's humiliation when he's replaced as PM is very moving.

In the final scene, Churchill delivers his stirring speech about "blood, toil, tears, and sweat", and it's very effective because Burton has a greater capacity for bombast than Churchill, even though Burton was drunk and Churchill was a politician. Churchill, as much as anything else, was a fine writer and speaker, precise and articulate, and this film captures those qualities well.


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