Gary Oldman’s award-winning performance in the hit film “Darkest Hour” is the latest portrayal of the most famous statesman of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill. From Richard Burton and Albert Finney to Robert Hardy and John LIthgow, playing Churchill has challenged the most accomplished actors in the English language. Getting Churchill “right” can be a box office bonanza and the string of Churchill films now extends well over half a century old.
Critics, movie buffs and historians continue to debate the merits of each new “Churchill” and the historical accuracy of the underlying screenplays. This year’s most frequent question is, “Did Churchill really ride the London underground”.
But even the most dedicated movie-goer may not realize that the Churchill’s screen connection goes much deeper. He was a dedicated film-watcher, especially in the stressful days of the Second World War, when he reveled in movies that glorified Britain’s storied past. And in his “wilderness years” in the 1930’s, he wrote screenplays and befriended personalities like Charlie Chaplin and director Alexander Korda. Churchill and Chaplin even contemplated an epic about Napoleon, with Churchill’s script and the appropriately sized actor playing the great Frenchman. (Alas, the idea never got off the drawing boards.)
And Winston Churchill’s own fabulous career may well have been the greatest performance of any public figure of modern times. No wonder his close friend and fellow politician David Lloyd George said, “He is just like an actor. He loves the limelight.”
Join acclaimed writer, historian and popular Community Library speaker Lee Pollock as he returns to Sun Valley to tell the fascinating story of “Churchill at the Movies”.
Lee Pollock is a Trustee and Advisor to the Board and the former Executive Director of The International Churchill Society. He writes about Churchill for the Wall Street Journal and The New Criterion and speaks about his life and leadership at leading universities, museums, libraries, clubs and other organizations around the country. He is a Fellow of The National Churchill Museum and the author of “Action This Day: Adventures with Winston Churchill”. Mr. Pollock is a graduate of McGill University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.
Picture: Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin in 1931.