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3.2 out of 5 stars
Glorious 39 [Blu-ray]
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Though there have been books and other films that deal with the dissidence between the aristocrats and the general populace of England around the topic of WW II, this beautifully executed 'historical thriller' brings many aspects of those discrepancies of opinion to light in a manner not unlike the similar thought processes in Germany at the same time: the gentry of Germany turned a blind eye to the events surrounding them (The Final Solution) in order to believe in what they chose to believe as a promise for stabilization and world importance as a genteel country. Writer/Director Stephen Poliakoff has based his examination of this problem on focusing on the life of one particular character whose fate was the standard of the dispossessed.

The year is 1939 and the aristocratic family of Sir Alexander Keyes (Bill Nighy) and his wife Maud (Jenny Agutter) are living what seems to be an idyllic life with their children Ralph (Eddie Redmayne), Celia (Juno Temple) and the eldest, Anne (Romula Garai) who we soon discover was adopted before the Keyes discovered they could bear children on their own. Anne is a beautiful creative actress who seems to make the family proud. The family is visited by an old friend Hector (David Tennant) who at dinner is very vocal about the fact that Hitler is a threat to England and that England must stop Hitler before he destroys them instead of pursuing a course of appeasement of Hitler that would prevent disturbance of their elegant way of life on the island of Britain. It is obvious that Sir Alexander is more concerned with his duties as a member of parliament and his maintenance of his family history and wealth, and his responses to Hector as well as to the mysterious Balcombe (Jeremy Northam) from the Foreign Office and the young Lawrence (Charlie Cox), a new member of the Foreign Office who is courting Anne, suggest subterfuge.

The family is visited by the very proper Aunt Elizabeth (Julie Christie) and while the entire family is on picnic, an infant transiently disappears while under Anne's care. From this point the story takes a dark turn: Anne continues filming in London with her close friend, actor Gilbert (Hugh Bonneville), and Anne discovers some phonograph records in the basement of the Keyes home, records that contain not fox trots but instead 'conversations' from meetings. Suspicions about evil derring-do arise when the family learns that Hector has committed suicide soon followed by the suicide of Gilbert and eventually the bizarre discovery of Lawrence's body among the pet animals ordered to be put to death to make the people of England more ready for abrupt changes. War with Germany begins and changes the atmosphere and results in changes in the Keyes family: Anne is imprisoned by the family because 'she is really not one of us' and unravels the harrowing mystery of the Keyes' family involvement in the dark events of the present and the past.

The mood of England of 1939 is beautifully captured by cinematographer Danny Cohen and the musical score by Adrian Johnston illustrates the dichotomy of the free-spirited Anne and the dark underpinnings of the Keyes family. Romola Garai is excellent in her treacherous role as are the other stars. Small roles by Toby Regbo, Christopher Lee, Corin Redgrave and others make this a cast rich in some of the finest British actors of the day. GLORIOUS 39 ('Glorious' is the nickname given Anne) is an enlightening film that addresses many significant issues too infrequently addressed by works of history. Grady Harp, February 11
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-ray
"Glorious 39," set in England in the summer of 1939, tells about Anne Keyes (Romola Garai), an attractive young woman who is enjoying modest success as a film actress. She is the adopted daughter of Alexander Keyes (Bill Nighy), a career politician and member of Parliament. Anne still lives in the family home with her father, mother Maud (Jenny Agutter), diplomat brother Ralph, and socialite sister Celia.

One of Alexander's friends stops by for dinner and during a tempestuous conversation expresses his disapproval of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his efforts to appease Hitler's Nazi regime. Anne begins to suspect a conspiracy is afoot when she finds a set of phonograph records that document conversations of men discussing state intelligence secrets. When Anne tries to share her discovery with others, they're soon found dead.

The plot is fascinating and fresh. It deals with a group of Brits convinced that England could not possibly prevail against Germany and who use every means from political influence to devious machinations to keep England out of war. This historical background blends nicely into a suspense thriller when bodies start piling up. It contains excellent performances and crisp direction by Stephen Poliakoff, who helmed many dramas for the BBC.

There are no bonus extras.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
This was a gorgeous, well-acted, well-crafted WWII thriller with a unique and rarely-addressed theme: the active role of the appeasement underground. From what I have seen here, some in this group (whole aristocratic families, in fact) were evil to the point of murdering those who disagreed with them. Why was this film not seen widely, and why are there are (at least on the jacket) no reviews whatsoever? Perhaps it is a shameful chapter in British history - "dirty laundry" some want buried? I find it peculiar in light of the fact that the cast is magnificent, the photography gorgeous and the plot line totally absorbing. Something's rotten in Denmark.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2011
Format: DVD
After finding secret pro-appeasment (for the Nazis) recordings Anne (Garai) becomes involved in a secret, violent conspiracy, set in England in 1939. After one of her friends who speaks out against Hitler is found dead, Anne begins to dig deeper into the reasons for his death. This is a very interesting movie. It is both compelling and slow moving. It is tense but it drags in spots. It kept me watching but my mind did wander a bit. This is overall a good movie but you need to be in the mood for it. You really feel for Anne and the way her life begins to fall apart. I am a fan of historical movies so I really liked that aspect of it. This movie had the feel of a made-for-TV movie, although it would have been an HBO movie with the quality of it. I recommend this but again, it's not for everyone, and you need to be in the mood to watch a movie like this one. I give it a B-.

Would I watch again? - Probably not
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2013
Format: DVD
I think what most people are missing is the excellent acting by Romola Garai. I watched it for that more than anything. Plus I found the film and the plot to be nicely surreal as it was and unclear in places - almost dreamlike for the nightmare scenario that it presents for every character, especially for Romola's character. Sure, things seem a bit disjointed and may beg for more fiber, but if you like British movies with all the set and setting and lovely
scenery, you will like it for this as well. I thought the film over all was artistically creepy and I enjoyed that very much. But it comes together well enough to make sense in the end, sort of...which is also what I liked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2013
Format: DVD
I didn't know very much about the appeasement policy in the 1930s - whether it was popular or not. I got quite a surprise after watching this film and did some research to find out that the appeasement policy was indeed very popular and that Churchill was more of a lone, or the loudest or at least well known voice against it.

I thought the film was intriguing and suspenseful and made a very interesting comment on the times. The plot can even be believable set in those times and now knowing as to what lengths governments etc go to to cover up and distort the truth or a dissenting voice - on that point nothing much has changed sadly.

I really enjoyed this film. It was well acted and by a host of very very good actors. I am disappointed that I have only watched it now on a small computer and not a large screen.

Thanks for writing it and filming it Mr P.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
If you are in search of a synopsis, THIS is NOT THAT. There are many fine options in 'outline' here at your fingertip to choose from if you prefer....

THIS is what I wish to offer & contribute as an American viewer: If you are not so familiar with a 'Classic' British approach in film making, 'Glorious 39' may develop somewhat slowly. It DOES have potential to 'grow greater' on you given the chance. I will point towards a couple (unfortunate) flaws nagging this well crafted film. But first...

***** STRENGTHS: There are many. This Stephen Poliakoff Work is an ambitious & aesthetically gorgeous film. Plenty of positive elements to highlight; subject matter, underlying texts, exceptional cast & performances, scenic locations, mindful Hitchcockian flavors, wonderful costume, profound moments in dialogue AND... it retains steady & coherent movement.

~ Yet, there are 2 MORE 'coinciding' reasons that garner an 'Anomalous 5' star rating: ~
First, the performance of Romola Garai throughout. She is & has deservedly been widely recognized and acclaimed. No exception here. (In all fairness, I try and remain objective for your benefit but I must openly admit; THIS IS my favourite lead billing of my VERY favourite actress.) Nonetheless, her captivating film presence & portrayal is reason enough for one to consider a VISIT or REVISIT of this film & appreciate.

As Anne Keyes, Romola Garai carries the lead role & interprets her character in rhythmic stride. From the privileged world as the eldest (and adopted) daughter of a British Member of Parliament, she leads us through her psychological downfall. A victim of betrayal & treachery, her journey into a darkness remains in a perfect motion. Even a certain physical wear & tear is (eventually) displayed in part with subtle body language and 'guttural aching'.

Second and realizing it takes a team to succeed more so than ever here, the 'confinement' of Anne Keyes is Glorious 39's towering apex in story & presentation. We are presented with correlating sequences & a series of dramatic character scenes. And as an outcome of circumstances during her 'confinement' continues, it climbs even a 'RUNG HIGHER.'

Take special note of the 'eye/door crevice' scene about halfway through the "confinement'. You'll soon find Anne engaged in anger, confrontation, desperation, frustration, sadness, helplessness and (possibly) a private surrender. It is a true struggle delivered in an effortless flow.

Subsequently, Writer/Director Poliakoff superbly captures Anne's 'LOOK of RESOLVE.' 'THE APEX'. 'THE MOMENT' when all she's encountered since the opening sequence CULMINATES in her perfected face.

With a few minor adjustments in tying in the story line ,Glorious 39 could have ended right there... (sigh...) For those approximate 18 minutes, regardless of any shortcomings elsewhere, it stands as one of my absolute favourite slices of film. In some ways, I want to say it is...

***** WEAKNESSES: Aside from the POSSIBILITY of an 'acquired taste' (what genre of art actually isn't?) or perceived 'slow of pace', this film does suffer some drawback on more than one occasion from awkward attempts in believability. There are 'spot' holes in script and at times its characters come across as over-directed or forced. There is also some glaring failure in editing.

***** OVERALL: You can do much worse in experiencing a 2 hour + feature film. You can't do much better than a stellar Romola Garai.....accompanied with the supporting & basis elements around her, on all cylinders and in unison. I find Glorious 39 as engaging & entertaining as a movie can be. I still & will always luv this movie, any flaws (if @ all !), like NO OTHER. - An Anomalous 5.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I expected this to be a historical movie about the British movement to appease Germany just before World War 2, with a murder mystery thrown in. However, its purpose is to be a horror movie--which is why the plot doesn't make sense. Viewers are forced to continually watch a sensitive, beautiful, likeable young woman increasingly betrayed by almost everyone she loves, plus people she barely knows. She's lied to, humiliated, imprisoned, starved, terrorized, and is forced to watch her friends brutally murdered or discover their corpses. If you empathize with her, and it's hard not to, it feels like being psychologically tortured yourself. Why put yourself through this experience? The only things this movie has in its favor are beautiful settings and costumes, and you can see those in plenty of other movies and TV series.
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22 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2011
Format: DVD
I expected to like Glorious 39, it began beautifully, full of promise, full of the possibility of re-experiencing an extraordinary time..."wait for it," I thought as the minutes and then the several hours passed, wait for it, it must be coming...the point, the purpose, the reason for all of this...oh there's a plot, and a story, improbable, filled with poor logic and people doing things that people do in badly done movies...but in the end, (and I won't betray the conclusion, because if nothing else, I'm not sure its possible to betray the conclusion any more than the film itself does), in the end, it was all EMPTY CALORIES...a shaggy dog story, a pointless exercise, filled with people who no more than on the surface were able to resurrect another time and another place...

The acting was mostly fine, the direction and writing sometimes brilliant but too often too painfully obvious, similar to that moment in too many movies when we the audience might scream "no no for god's sakes don't open that door!"

This is a film that went nowhere and said nothing, nothing about the heart, the soul, the human condition, about being alive...pointless empty calories, a sugar doughnut of sound and fury masquerading as history and signifying...nothing...

Quite an achievement, I suppose...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Based on a true story. Great! What was happening in Britain right before WWII busted out all over the place.
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