On Screen: “The Winslow Boy”

David Mamet’s film “The Winslow Boy,” based on the stage play by Terence Rattigan, was released in 1999 to critical acclaim. It was hard to find in theaters because it’s an artfully done film, but Lee Ann and I saw it at one of the art-house shops in Raleigh because of good reviews we read.

The play, originally produced in 1946, is based on actual events taking place in London in 1908, when a young cadet at The Royal Naval Academy was expelled after being accused of theft. His socially-conscious family defends him. The play was made into a movie in 1948. The 1999 version stars Jeremy Northam and Rebecca Pidgeon (David Mamet’s wife) and features a wonderfully-filmed scene in which Northam – as the barrister Sir Robert Morton – queries the expelled Winslow boy about the alleged theft. The clip here is a bit long, but you have to watch the first half to appreciate the last half.

The movie was playing on Cinemax a couple of weeks ago at the same time my son Addison – inspired by big brother Zachary’s “best director” award at their school’s film fesitval with his film “Doctor Elite,” made as part of a film class – was putting together his own plans to make a movie. I showed Addison this scene as an example of really superb movie-making. No special effects, nothing fancy – just fantastic dialogue and perfect camera work. Check it out…


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