Churchill the Hollywood Years
His comrade in arms -- Roosevelt (Henry Goodman) -- thinks of him as a brother. Pompous British Army Captain -- Baxter (Rik Mayall) -- thinks that he's a right tosser. Irish cockney -- Jim Jim Charoo (Mackenzie Crook) -- just loves to have him around. Where as the future head-honcho -- Princess Elizabeth (Neve Campbell) -- falls for Winston Churchill (Christian Slater) like a ton of bricks.
Yes. That's right. I said 'Winston Churchill'. The all-American army Lieutenant who has come over to
in 1940, to win the war for old Blighty!
And it's a good job that he does, too. Because guess who else has also come to
at this precise moment in time? No. Not Lord W'ruff (Leslie Phillips). This
unscrupulous secret Nazi sympathiser is already here. And no. It isn't Charlie
Chaplin either. Although some people have mistaken German Chancellor -- Adolf Hitler (Anthony Sher) -- for him on occasion. But not his gal-pal -- Eva Braun (Miranda
Richardson) -- mores the pity.
Still, what do you think happens when Hitler and Winston come face to face at the home of tight fisted monarch, King George VI (Harry Enfield)? Do they both sit down and have a nice cup of tea together? Or does that poor b*stard Winston get shot at and have to make a run for it before he's turned into a profiterole?
Correct. BANG! BANG! He runs.
Though that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when
Roosevelt goes state-side, and the crown
is locked-up in a dungeon and left to stew. As alliances try to tie the knot -
royal trains hit the right spot - battles are hard and mean - and Winston
eventually does save the Queen.
I'm a big fan of old gangster movies: Dick Tracy, The Public Enemy, and Gangster Squad. I even wear old time hollywood style gangster hats when I head out. I own a classic black fedora, a stylish burgundy homburg hat, and a chocolate derby. And to be honest with you, dear reader. none of what I just said means shit when it comes to this film. Film critique, Phillip French, from the English newspaper 'The Observer' called this comedy, 'a hit and miss affair'. And do you know what? He's right on the money, baby!
Listen, I do not want to sound rude to any of the main players involved with this flick, but -- alas -- this 'Comic Strip Presents' slanted production, just hasn't got that balls to 'push the boundaries' that has it done in the past.
Hey! Maybe these filmic-facts may help me figure out why? (1) Although he has been dead for quite some time now, the real Winston Churchill got his first 'actors' credit on this flick, playing the part of Roy Bubbles in archived form. (2) The running joke where Adolf Hitler kept on being mistaken for Charlie Chaplin; was inspired by the 'Little Tramp' movie, 'The Great Dictator'. (3) This production was filmed between the 24th of March and the 12th of May, 2003. (4) The director, Peter Richardson, stated that the scene where Churchill and Eisenhower exit the British War Office, was somehow very relevant to the Iraq War. (5) The real Winston Churchill was half-American and half-British. His mother, Jennie, was born in
in 1854, and was the granddaughter of Leonard Jerome, a New York State
Assemblyman. (6) Another running
joke in this movie was inspired by the lyrical slur of "Hitler Has Only
Got One Ball" as sung to the show-tune of 'Colonel Bogey March'. (7) Jim
Jim Charoo's name derives from the song Dick van Dyke sung in
the musical, 'Mary Poppins'. (8) The "Irish Cockney" reference is a
spoof of the 'steerage passengers' in the 'Titanic' movie. (9) Even though most of
this picture was filmed at the Royal William Yard, Stonehouse, Plymouth,
the old fish quay at Brixham, Devon, doubles for Plymouth
Docks. Whereas the Oldway Mansion in Paignton, also in Devon, doubles for
Buckingham Palace, and was once the home of sewing machine millionaire, Isaac
Singer. And (10) Peter Richardson was supposed to have been in the sit-com 'The
Young Ones', with Rik Mayall, who plays Baxter in this film.
No. None of those facts help with anything, do they? Shame really. As I would have liked for 'Churchill - The Hollywood Years' to been more focused as a whole. Instead, it only really works in part -- within the scenes -- due to the fact that the 'individual sketches' are much more stronger than the complete package. Check out this clip to see what I mean...
See? Wasn't Harry just great as the King? And the same can be said for all of the other actors too, reinforcing the story as best they can. However, that's precisely what lets this comedy down -- the story -- because just like the King, it mumbles, it fumbles, and in essence, comes across like a modern day version of a 'Carry On' film, with less of the magic, and more of the bump.
Bugger. I feel like a right git now for saying all of that. Though maybe I could redeem myself by plugging another 'Comic Strip' slated comedy here - 'The Hunt For Tony Blair' (click on the link for the review) -- might work? What do you say guys?
Sod you then.
THE RATING: A