Churchill

CHURCHILL IS ABOUT HIS NOT-SO-FINEST HOURS
As a title at the end of Churchill says, Winston Churchill may possibly be the greatest Briton of all time. But the early days of June 1944, featured in the film, were unquestionably his worst. What happens is that contents of Operation Overlord, the plan for D-Day, are revealed to him by Dwight Eisenhower (played by non-lookalike John Slattery), Bernard Montgomery (Julian Wadham) and others. Clearly recalling his embarrassing defeat in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915/1916, Churchill (Brian Cox) erupts in strong opposition. Although his aide, General Jan Smuts (Richard Durden), and his neglected wife Clementine (Miranda Richardson) try to persuade him to accept the plan, he remains intemperate until Eisenhower matter-of-factly informs him that the plan will go forward regardless and that his judgment is based on an earlier and obsolete technology of warfare. In other words, the reasons for the plan are never revealed to Churchill, which must have added to his fury. Then, resigned to the plan, Churchill decides to redeem himself by going on one of the ships to lead his troops into the fight along with King George VI (James Purefoy), but the latter persuades him otherwise. On June 6, 1944, as Operation Overlord begins, Churchill makes one of his most celebrated speeches to galvanize public support as troops land on the shores of Normandy, presumably with his fingers crossed. The title at the end then serves as sort of an apology by director Jonathan Teplitzky for demonstrating Churchill’s apparent senility during those days. MH