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The Winslow Boy

121 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

David Mamet's brilliant adaptation of the THE WINSLOW BOY is a rich and complex telling of the British classic, brought to life by a superior ensemble of talent. The story follows the lives of the Winslows, a banker's family living in turn-of-the-century London, as they fight to prove the innocenceof their youngest son accused of theft. After Sir Robert Morton, a respected lawyer, agrees to represent the boy, the case becomes a national spectacle and threatens to erode the family's bond. But, even as the legal circus engulfs the Winslows' lives, self-discovery and blossoming romance round out this period masterpiece filled with shimmering hope, wit and humanity.

Many thought The Winslow Boy was an odd choice of material for David Mamet. It was originally a Terence Rattigan play from 1946, taken from a true incident in England in 1908 about a boy, 13, discharged from Royal Naval College for allegedly stealing and cashing a five-shilling postal order. The boy's father, Arthur Winslow (Nigel Hawthorne), mounts a lengthy and expensive legal campaign to clear his boy's and by extension his own name, with the rallying cry, "Let right be done!" The resultant notoriety, the dwindling fortune of the Winslows, as well as the punishment this pressure exacts on them, form the surface action of the story. Yet underneath the staid manners of the dialogue there roils a whole emotional life hardly hinted at in the actors' faces. The famous lawyer engaged to defend the boy, Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), makes a suitable sparring partner for the Winslows' daughter, Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon), a suffragette whose suitors are scared off by the family's legal battle. The unspoken romance between these two is more the point than whether right is done or not. Pidgeon brings the same inscrutable countenance that complicated her role in Mamet's previous film, The Spanish Prisoner, to this film--but here everybody seems to have it. As the differences between appearance and actuality reconcile themselves, Mamet builds bridges to his other works, House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner, for instance, for the ways in which dialogue is a cover for someone's true nature. The Winslow Boy is masterful in its quiet treatment of human mysteries. --Jim Gay

Special Features

  • Making-Of Featurette
  • Trailer For The Spanish Prisoner

Product Details

  • Actors: Gemma Jones, Jeremy Northam, Rebecca Pidgeon, Nigel Hawthorne
  • Directors: David Mamet
  • Producers: Sarah Green
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2000
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000372I3
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,107 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Winslow Boy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Magnus on December 10, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have probably watched this one 15-20 times. It's based on a true story, and there was evidently a play about it which preceded the film.
I saw it the second and the third time because the tenor was so appealing to me, the heroism of the father so compelling and the love story so masterfully executed. It could be the best ending I've ever seen on film. Furthermore, Mamet's grasp of that time and place was solid enough, that I was convinced he was born in England before the Second World War. And the acting was incredible -- particularly that of Jeremy Northam who admittedly had the best part, but also all the other major parts were played very, very well.
And then for a time with each new viewing, I saw things I hadn't seen before. The plot is so complete and well conceived, that I'm left a little breathless.
The central theme of the film, it seems to me, is "Let Right be done." Everybody gives up everything for Right. Only the incompetent maid doesn't observe any loss, though it is her unswerving faith that makes her impossible to fire. If she must go, then the point is lost somehow. So the entire ship sinks or floats as one. The father spends all the family money and sacrifices his health. The wayward older brother must leave Oxford. The daughter gives up her marriage. . All of it reasonably cheerfully. And for what? For Right. Yet on the surface, it seems "such a very trivial affair". A kid is accused of stealing a couple bucks. The discrepancy between the triviality of the case and the forces brought to bear upon it suggests something very powerful.
And then in the final sentence, everything is restored. It's beautiful.
All aspects of this problem of Right are addressed. It's not only about the comfort of the boy, whose life would be easier without the publicity.
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The Winslow Boy is easily my favorite movie experience of 1999. There are too few films like this with its superb (and profanity-free!) dialogue and thought-provoking characterizations. I believe this new version's omission of the final courtroom dramatics (mentioned by an earlier reviewer) was a brilliant decision of director Mamet's. Here, the out-of-court dialogues and polite parlor interplay tell the story in crafty, ultimately revealing layers... Yes, there is a touch of ambiguity in some of the characters' motives which, for me, makes all the undercurrent discoveries more exciting and personal. These people are very real and express their feelings only to the point that real people tend to air their souls... which is to say, not that much! The subtle ambiguity reminds me of the novels of master-author Henry James. Intelligent, psychologically fascinating, detective-y almost, and romantic. It's beautifully directed -- Mamet excels at twisty, mind-bending plots and I think his trademark touches weave very well into a multi-character study like this one. The actors are universally charismatic and memorable. It's certainly Jeremy Northam's and Rebecca Pidgeon's best work... and when isn't Nigel Hawthorne amazing? He's brilliant here. And for such an elegant, mannered period movie, it gives off unexpected electricity. There's nothing like great dialogue to create great chemistry!
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful By James Dill on July 22, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
One of the most interesting films of '99, The Winslow Boy may not be for everyone. No cars careen around corners and explode, no guns are fired. Instead David Mamet (House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, Glengarry Glen Ross) in his movie adaption of Terrance Rattigan's ever popular British play, based on a true story, creates an English world of 1910 on the eve of WWI, women's sufferage and the rest of the modern age. With dramatic, precisely crafted dialogue he raises such questions as: the standing of the least before the highest, justice vs. moral truth, the costs of the pursuit of truth and the difficulty seperating truth from lies. Featuring Jeremy Northam (Emma, The Net), Nigel Hawthorne (Madness of King George), Rebecca Pigeon (Spanish Prisoner, and also David Mamet's wife), her brother Matthew Pigeon, Gemma Jones (Sense & Sensibility), Colin Stinton, and thirteen year old Guy Edwards as Ronnie Winslow, the accused. They all do fine job, but particularly outstanding are Northam as Sir Robert Morton, Hawthorne as the father Arthur Winslow, Jones as Grace Winslow and Edwards. Benoit Delhomme's John Singer Sargeant like cinema photography brings to life end of Victorian England. As Mamet wrote in Three Uses of the Knife: "During the O.J. Simpson occurred to me that a legal battle consisted not in a search for truth but in jockeying for the right to pick the central issue."
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 7, 2005
Format: DVD
This is a first-class David Mamet film of indirection, understatement and cool emotion. A young cadet at the Royal Naval Academy has been expelled for stealing a five-shilling postal order from another cadet. He swears to his father that he didn't do it and his father believes him. At that point Arthur Winslow (Nigel Hawthorne) becomes determined to prove his son innocent. He is rebuffed by the Admiralty because, as part of the Queen's government, the Admiralty can do no wrong and cannot be sued. He engages a famous solicitor, Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), who agrees to take the brief. Morton eventually succeeds in bringing the case before the House of Commons on a petition of right, where even the lowest of the Queen's subjects can have the opportunity "to have right be done." All this takes years. The Winslow family suffers ridicule and financial distress. Arthur Winslow's daughter, Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon), a prickly and intelligent suffragette, sees her opportunity for an advantageous marriage evaporate. His son is forced to leave Oxford and take a banking job. His wife sees so much of the security of the home vanish in the costs of the case. The case, based on a true happening, finally is won.

Mamet's screenplay is based on the Forties play by Terence Rattigan. It's a solid piece of work that keeps the story moving and concentrates on the characters. The interplay among the characters is excellent, especially between Catherine Winslow and Sir Robert Morton. The dialogue may be on the surface exquisitely courteous, but underneath runs unexpected currents that are a lot of fun to witness. Northam's Morton is smart, secure, successful and not at all sympathetic to suffragettes.
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I hadn't picked up on that but now that you mention it, Sir Robert is as reserved and proud as Darcy. And like Darcy he saves a family member from disgrace which is a gift to the rest of the family. I always like to think that by Sir Robert marrying Catherine he saves her from poverty and... Read More
Dec 28, 2008 by Judith Johnson |  See all 3 posts
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