The Winslow Boy

7.31 h 44 min1999X-RayG
When a young boy claims he was expelled for something he didn't do, his father sacrifices everything to defend his family's honor. Based on Terence Rattigan's celebrated play, adapted and directed byDavid Mamet.
David Mamet
Nigel HawthorneGemma JonesJeremy Northam
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Rebecca Pidgeon
Sarah Green
Sony Pictures Classics
G (General Audience)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

519 global ratings

  1. 81% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 10% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

N.P.Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good movie
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Good movie but the one with Robert Donat is a lot better.
James T. WheelerReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2007
4.0 out of 5 stars
Good not great; unfulfilled potential.
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With this being one of the last, if not the last, performances by Nigel Hawthorne, my wife and I expected something really good. Moreover, other reviewers had generally rated the show with five stars. We enjoyed the story, to be sure, but giving it five stars may do an injustice to other outstanding British and other productions we've seen lately. Not least of these have been "North and South" and "Pride and Prejudice." Both the 1979 and 1995 renderings of the latter fall into a five star mode for us.

The story line revolves around the Winslow family, with Nigel Hawthorne as patriarch. He and his wife, played by Gemma Jones, have three offspring, a daughter and two sons. The younger son, Ronnie, gets into trouble at his Navy prep school when he's only 13 years old. A money order is stolen, forged, and cashed, and Ronnie is accused of the crime. After a one-sided review, Ronnie is expelled in disgrace and sent home. Mr. Winslow is outraged and spends the next several years of his life, along with a great share of the family fortune fighting for legal justice. The Winslow daughter, portrayed by Rebecca Pidgeon, is also drawn deeply into the case with little or no reward for her efforts.

Pacing of the show is noticeably slow. It plods along for the better part of 1 hour and 45 minutes with no hint of what will come. There is little wit and humor that you'd expect from a cast featuring Mr. Hawthorne. This is a dead serious drama all the way. One wonders if more background music would have helped. Also, as with other British productions, it may be advisable for we Americans to switch on subtitles. British idioms and sayings are not easy for us to pick up and the actors move on quickly with their dialogue.

Conclusion of the show is particularly bothersome as we are told that the case is eloquently argued in court by the hero, Sir Robert Morton, well played by Jeremy Northam. But we don't get to see any of the key proceedings and the long-sought victory is almost treated as an afterthought. To top it off, Sir Robert makes a vague comment to the Winslow daughter that might suggest a romantic follow-up on his part. But there the story ends abruptly. What could David Mamet, the writer and director, have been thinking? Did he run out of money? Or, maybe Mr. Hawthorne's failing health may have affected the production?

As to the "making of" featurette, it was skimpy to say the least. Yes, there were brief interviews with Mr. Mamet and Mr. Hawthorne, but very little else.

For those interested in period dramas, there are better choices, as noted above. For us, "The Winslow Boy" was good but not great and sadly does not fulfill its potential.
2 people found this helpful
Margaret MagnusReviewed in the United States on December 10, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars
Let Right Be Done
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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. Nor is it about his honor. "The case has much wider implications than that." The father describes himself as fighting for `justice'. But it's not even about that.
It's about Right. The only thing that has the power to cause Sir Robert to show his emotions is when Right is done -- "very easy to do Justice, very hard to do Right." And I think it is because Sir Robert sees the distinction, that he is able to play the trick without losing his moral ground. He plays the trick to take control of the House of Commons, to discredit a witness, to determine whether the boy is telling the truth, and even to trip up Edmund Curry so he can seize the girl at a distance. Kate initially mistakes this trickiness for simple avarice, and although she lays into him for being so `passionless', she shares his capacity to keep a level head. Though they both do have their knee-jerk emotional responses. She falls for some guilty radical just because he takes on the establishment. And he's wrong about women's sufferage. But he shows his eligibility for her by sacrificing his career for Right. And she also demonstrates her eligibility for the big league by sacrificing for the cause of Right her only hope of a decent marriage. They make a very convincing pair.
101 people found this helpful
Alyssa A. LappenReviewed in the United States on June 13, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Thoroughly engaging
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This is a marvelous film. The film is based on a 1946 British by Terence Rattigan, which is likewise based on a 1908 event in which George Archer-Shee, at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, was falsely accused of stealing a postal order from another cadet. The The play was inspired by an actual event, which set a legal precedent: the case of Stonyhurst College alumnus George Archer-Shee, a cadet at Osborne in 1908, who was accused of stealing a postal order from a fellow cadet. In real life, the boy's elder brother believed in his innocence and convinced their father to hire attorneys. They hired a famous contemporary, Sir Edward Carson, who also believed in the boy's innocence and won in court, extracting compensation for the family's duress.

David Mamet directs a flawless film here, with a stellar cast.

Everything about it is wonderful, screenplay, acting, cinematography, costumes, you name it.

This is a thoroughly engaging story with a wonderful set of characters. Highly recommended.
12 people found this helpful
acjReviewed in the United States on May 6, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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This film was such a joy that a gave my DVD away and got the Blu-ray. If you love cinema this movie is not to be missed!
AmadeusReviewed in the United States on February 12, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wonderful study of human character
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Brilliant art of storytelling, magnificently executed and played out. Every little detail in this movie is finely crafted and artfully displayed. Rather sad that it’s done so long time ago. David Mamet is true master of suspense in triviality and result is absolutely captivating.
Donald M. ScottReviewed in the United States on July 30, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A film that encourages the soul, with the best last line in film history.
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Outside, tonight, the trumpanzees were jiggling around, yelling their insults and lies, and it was enough to put a bad spin on a good week. Then I began to watch this extraordinary film, and the trumpanzees faded into a well-deserved dust. By the end of the movie - and I very rarely do this - I cried a bit over the conclusion of the case central to the film. Then, the last line - and, in this day of screeching and yattlin' over issues like women's rights and male obligations - and I was speechless. Do NOT cheat to see the end first. But watch this film, and see it on many levels, all of them honest and good.
2 people found this helpful
KosmosReviewed in the United States on May 24, 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars
This film stands for: "less sometines means more"
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Movies, these days, come loaded with such a definitely bombastic style that they appear to deny the existence of the notion that restraint has its peculiar virtue and beauty. In this sense, the "Winslow Boy" will only be truly appreciated by those who do have a good grasp of that notion. The film is a perfect example to illustrate that an underplayed performance is much more effective and satisfying than an overplayed one; that self-restraining style has more meaning and class than a say-all-you-feel style. Put in other words, isn't it more exciting to see a beautiful woman in a suggestive dress than see her in the nude! Yes, leave the rest to one's own imagination and intimacy! Despite the grave nature of the legal issue raised in the movie, every aspect in it is underplayed and delivered with an appropriate touch of reticence that the conflicts it generate seem more real and honest. The Winslow Boy incident is nothing but a catalyst and a tool to develop characters, conflicts and relationships. Among them the relationship between Rebecca Pidgeon and Jeremy Northam is a model of adult sexuality at its finest. In essence, this movie is a drama which hides a covert, clever, smoldering romance which has an atypical happy ending that stimulates your imagination beyond the movie. Deep underneath their skin one can feel the sexual tension between them that is kept in check by their cool heads and the notion that it is always better not to let one's emotions just explode all at once. Emotions should be managed and not let run loose at will. After the ending, one comes to the realization that long lasting relationships are built step by step, with time and effort, and with a good dose of intellectual foreplay to top it off. By the way, this DVD comes with an alternative audio commentary by the director and the principal cast that is very informative and entertaining, and it is also a good example of why every good film should add such a track to its DVD format. This may have been the best performance by Jeremy Northam (he certainly has a resemblance and style of Laurence Olivier) , and Rebecca Pidgeon was perfect in her role, and those who critized her for being too cold and emotionless, and other aspects of this movie, just do not get the deliberate design of this movie.
13 people found this helpful
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