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Young Winston (1972)


Young Winston (1972)

The film's U.S. premiere was held at the MacArthur Theatre in Washington, D.C., attended by Ward, members of the British embassy and as well as invited guests from the area, including the symphonic band from Winston Churchill High School in nearby Potomac, Maryland, conducted by Ronald Shurie.The film was premiered in the UK with Susan Hampshire and the youngest Winston of the cast on stage at the time. The band of the Royal Hussars (PWO) played at the screening.

That's the case even though we do get occasional bits of controversy and scandal, items that would have been left out of a film biography of 10 or 20 years ago. We learn that Churchill's father, Lord Randolph, contracted a venereal disease. We learn that his mother may have been frigid. We learn that young Winston, like most British upper-class boys at the time; was not spared the rod at public school.

From these clues (for that's the way they're presented) writer-producer Carl Foreman and director Richard Attenborough fashion of life of Churchill that follows all the good old Freudian rules. Because he felt rejected by his father ("You are my greatest disappointment," Lord Randolph bellows at him), he leaves England and seeks success in colonial wars. He is a war correspondent, military critic and young lieutenant. And his adventures are his initiation into manhood, preparing him for the courageous speech in the House of Commons with which the movie (a little too gloriously) ends.

Although Simon Ward is very good, and even physically resembles the young Churchill, the acting honours go to Robert Shaw and Anne Bancroft as his parents. Shaw in particular is superb as Randolph Churchill, especially when his mental faculties in the House are affected by syphilis (these days, this cause of illness and death has been debunked, but in 1972 it was believed this had caused his decline).

With locations ranging from Wales to North Africa, Attenborough and Foreman give the show an epic canvas. We first meet Winston (Simon Ward) as a young 2nd Lieutenant and war correspondent in India, a green careerist desperate to get attention. Despite riding an ostentatious white horse and volunteering to leap into dangerous situations, Winston escapes a bloody counter-attack. He makes enemies of the Army brass by writing up his adventures for the London readers. When he criticizes the campaign and cheerfully offers up advice for his superiors, he earns the ire of General Kitchener (John Mills), making his future in the military doubtful at best.

Biographical drama starring Simon Ward, Robert Shaw and Anne Bancroft. As a young officer in India, Winston Churchill is already determined to make his mark. He takes up the position of war correspondent, and a native uprising soon provides him with the opportunity to express his outspoken views.

Tom Brown's Schooldays meets The Four Feathers in Richard Attenborough's lavishly mounted but often lifeless account of Winston Churchill's early years. Stodgily scripted by producer Carl Foreman, it follows Churchill's progress from school at Harrow to the Boer War to his first major parliamentary speech as MP for Oldham. Robert Shaw and Anne Bancroft are excellent as Churchill's parents, and there's an impressive array of British talent in support, including Anthony Hopkins as Lloyd George. Meanwhile, in the title role, young Simon Ward gives a creditable performance as the budding British bulldog. Morocco stands in for all places exotic, while Blenheim plays itself.

The film focuses on Churchill's early life as a boy, and later as a young cavalry officer in India, Sudan, and the Second Boer War, culminating with his election as a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1900. Based on his 1930 memoir My Early Life, it is very much shown from Churchill's own perspective as a slightly older man (Simon Ward also narrates the film, using a version of Churchill's distinctive older-man voice). Attenborough occasionally uses the device o


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