"...WINSLOW BOY triumphs in giving several superb actors an intelligent, unobtrusive setting..."
Rolling Stone - 01/20/2000 Ranked #9 in Rolling Stone's "Ten Best Movies of 1999"
Sight and Sound - 11/??/1999
"...[A] surprisingly faithful adaptation..."
Entertainment Weekly - 05/07/1999
"...A drama of wicked subtlety and moral finesse..." -- Rating: A-
New York Times - 04/30/1999
"...A precisely calibrated war of nerves in which truth and deceit are all-important....[Pidgeon] bristles most effectively and plays Catherine with strong presence and a sharp, lucid edge..."
Box Office - 04/01/1999
"...Brilliant dialogue....Mamet's script clips along at such a rate, in fact, that just as one dazzling phrase or turn has barely registered, he's amazing you with another..."
USA Today - 04/30/1999
"...Absorbing....Keeping it going are the inherent appeal of sheer principle as a dramatic force and the performances..."
Los Angeles Times - 04/30/1999
"...A pointed examination of the price of seeking justice....Genteel moviemaking with modern overtones, THE WINSLOW BOY is especially good at the visual re-creation of its time..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 05/28/1999
"...There is a wonderful audacity in the way that the outcome of the case happens offscreen and is announced in an indirect manner....Mamet's characters are interesting precisely because of the reserve and detachment they bring to passion..."
Based on an actual trial that created a media frenzy in WWI-era London, THE WINSLOW BOY might have been conceived as a standard courtroom drama. Instead, director David Mamet (working from the play by Terence Rattigan) focuses on a family pushed to the limit by its fight for justice. The trouble begins when Ronnie Winslow (Guy Edwards), a 13-year-old naval cadet, is accused of, and subsequently expelled for, stealing a five-shilling postal order. The boy's father, Arthur (Nigel Hawthorne), believes his son's protestations of innocence and sets in motion an expensive fight against the immense bureaucratic machinery of the crown. The expense and publicity imperil the family--costing Arthur's suffragette daughter, Catherine, a suitor, for example--even as the case becomes a national cause célèbre. The story captures a period of intense social change; charts an early example of the "media trial"; and asks the very human question, What is one's good name worth' Excellent performances abound in the film, especially from Jeremy Northam as the charismatic lawyer Sir Robert Morton; and Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, as Catherine.
Adapted by David Mamet from a 50-year-old play by Terence Rattigan, this scrupulously manicured courtroom drama is incredibly precise in its portrayal of social mores. The Winslow family has been forced to retain a powerful attorney whose expense is well beyond their means, in order to clear the good name of their youngest son, who has been expelled from his military academy. Mamet wisely focuses on the reactions of the characters, who display rare courage and dignity throughout the hardship, rather than on the courtroom dramatics.
Theatrical release: April 30, 1999.
THE WINSLOW BOY was shot on location in London, England.
Playwright Terence Rattigan based THE WINSLOW BOY on the real-life case of George Archer-Shee, who was accused of stealing a postal order at the Naval Academy in 1908 (possibly because of bias against Catholics). His father, Martin, insisted on justice for his son, finally retaining Edward Carson--the barrister famous for his prosecution of Oscar Wilde's libel suit--to serve as counsel in the 1910 trial. George Archer-Shee was killed in 1914 in WWI; later his family was reimbursed for the great expense they had incurred in the pursuit of their case. In his play, Rattigan changed the time period of the case slightly, changed the character of George's siblings (in part to introduce the issue of women's suffrage), and ignored the possibility of religious bias as a factor in the case.
Women were granted full voting rights in England in 1928.
Neil North, who plays the First Lord of the Admiralty, played Ronnie Winslow in the 1948 film version.
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