Richard Burton wrote in an article: "In the course of preparing myself to act the part of Winston Churchill in the television drama based on the first volume of his war memoirs, 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. Lord Acton's observations that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely" and that "great men are almost always bad men" apply to Churchill as to all of history's other indirectly great men ... 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 - but then so am I awed by Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane the Great, Lenin, Hitler and Stalin. Yet so terrible a personification of evil cannot fail to raise every long-gone atavistic hair down the length of my spine. "That morbid creature, Hitler, of ferocious genius, that repository of human crime," Churchill said of the Austrian corporal. He might quite easily have been talking about himself when he had total authority over the British." See more »
Burton gets the speeches but it is another case of him going through the motions for the most part and collecting the fee. By 1974 he had been warned to stop drinking but failed to follow doctor's orders. Alcohol rules all his performances after 1974. If you want to see an actor play Churchill watch Albert Finney in 'The Gathering Storm.' He takes the role seriously. Virginia McKenna is the saving grace of this film and the other supporting actors play their parts well. Burton could have given a defining performance here but as usual in his final years all ambition had long gone. Compare this with his performances in his earlier work and it makes for depressing viewing. Robert Hardy who has played the most Churchill roles on TV has a supporting part here. How he must have cringed during the recording!
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