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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Young Winston (1972)

The early years of the young Winston Churchill (Simon Ward) are played out in two parts. The first is his school years with Churchill played by Russell Lewis and then later by Michael Audreson before Ward takes over and also deals with his father's (Robert Shaw) slow death from syphilis. After the intermission, the film concentrates on his years as a war correspondent in India and South Africa whose Boer war sequence is the film's highpoint. After that, it's an anticlimax. The truth of the matter is that outside of his war experiences, the young Churchill's life isn't all that interesting and much of it is a bit of a slog to get through. Directed by Richard Attenborough (who would go on do make a much superior bio ten years later with GANDHI) and based on Churchill's memoirs, the film isn't helped by the annoying voice overs by Ward in Churchill's (elderly) vocal mannerisms which he doesn't attempt as a young man. Attenborough also uses three faux interview segments with an unseen interviewer in an attempt to help us see Churchill, his father and mother (played by Anne Bancroft in a grande dame manner) which clash with the otherwise naturalistic elements. The Alfred Ralston score with large doses of Edward Elgar is pretentious. The large roster of supporting players include Anthony Hopkins, John Mills, Ian Holm, Jane Seymour, Jack Hawkins, Patrick Magee, Edward Woodward, Laurence Naismith and Pat Heywood.

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