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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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My local cinema "Supper Club" showed this last night... the supper was better than the film! Brian Cox is a superb actor, (and was the ORIGINAL Hannibal Lector - Anthony Hopkins merely copied him!) But, unfortunately looks nothing like Churchill. Every baby looks like Chunchill, no baby looks like Brian Cox. He managed to get the voice down well, and I was hoping to enjoy the movie, but found that I disagreed with the central premise of the plot: The writers, it seemed to me, had got the story totally arse-about-face. The story, (as told in the film) shows a Churchill wracked with doubts about D-Day in the few days leading up to it, and trying to get it either stopped completely or at least postponed, because he fears that it will be a repetition of the massacres of WW1 (specifically Gallipoli, an idea that Churchill himself had come up with, but which got "nickled and dimed" down into something unrecognisable. HIS plan had been to blast his way through the Dardanelles, accepting the loss of as many battleships as were required to do the job, because when the job WAS done, it would knock Turkey out of the Axis Alliance, and allow badly-needed supplies to be shipped to the Russians)
When the USA entered WW2 - reluctantly - they did so with an extraordinary amount of arrogance, for a nation whose military had for the most part hardly heard a shot in anger. They arrived ready to tell everybody else what to do, and quite often with ideas that had been outdated in 1918. The USA was gung ho to invade France in 1943 - and was told in no uncertain terms to put a sock in it. AN invasion as envisaged by the USA to take place in 1943 would have been a disasterous bloodbath. Churchill demanded THEN (i.e. in 1942) a year's delay, and he GOT it (a delay until 1944). And he used that extra year to maximum advantage - the creation of the 79th Armoured Brigade under Brigadier Hobart, for example. (Don't forget that in the previous war, Churchill had been instrumental in the development of the tank, to counter the barbed wire and trenches of WW1. With absolutely NO authority to do so, he had provided government finance to develop them! Now he was sponsoring some truly strange vehicles to cross the beaches of Normandy.) PLUTO - the "PipeLineUnderTheOcean" which delivered fuel to the invasion forces via a... pipleline under the ocean! (or at least, under the English Channel) And the Mulberry Harbours, the remains of which can still be seen at Arromanches.  (Churchill had quibbled about them being described as "pre-fabricated", and said that he preferred the expression "ready made") Bottom line, there is absolutely ZERO doubt in MY mind that Churchill had been an enthusiastic participant in the planning of D-Day, in almost every detail, not merely a passive observer whose glory days lay behind him.

Aside from Brian Cox, Miranda Richardson deserves praise as WInston's long-suffering wife Clementine. James Purefoy (who I remember particularly from the BBC series "Rome", in which he played Marc Anthony), was a very convincing King, complete with slight stammer. I think I'd have suggested that the casting director had paid a little more attention to heights. The Chap who played Monty (Julian Wadham) towered over General Brooke (Danny Webb) despite the real Monty being notoriously short. When I was a young man, a comedian name Lance Percival made a good career, partly from making appearances AS Monty on TV - he had the nasal voice down absolutely correctly. Sadly  Mr. Wadham didn't have it. If Monty and Brooke had swapped actors....?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2674454/?ref_=nv_sr_1

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I too was pretty disappointed with that film and for many of the same reasons.  I am certain that Churchill in the depths of his heart was deeply worried about the consequences of a failed landing, that only makes sense.  But to focus on that doesn't make much sense to me.

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A failed invasion would indeed have been a total disaster, but I find the central premise of the film - that Churchill as so obsessed by Gallipoli and the carnage of WW1 that he'd lost his nerve regarding D-Day goes totally against what we know of the man's character. He had written in his OWN History of WW1 that battles are won "either by slaughter or by manoeuvre" and he invested a great deal of effort in outmanoeuvring the Germans in France. I keep stressing the importance of GOOD reliable intelligence... Germany made an utter Horlicks of the Battle of Britain thanks to a pitiable LACK of intel. Most of the time they had a minimal idea of what was going on, and much of what they BELIEVED to be happening was totally wrong. They bombed every airfield that they knew existed, because they had no information regarding whether it was a fighter field, or a bomber field, or even a Coastal Command field. When your grand plan calls for bombing the FIGHTER squadrons out of existence... wasting 2/3 of your scarce resources on bombing the WRONG targets is a complete disaster.
Churchill had indeed been heavily influenced by WW1; he had established during it what amounted to a "gang" of like-thinking men, who came rapidly to terms with a new kind of warfare, involving relatively new concepts like camouflage, trickery, and signals intelligence. The "Gang" reformed at the start of WW2. And established a situation in which, for most of the war, Germany had very little idea of what the hell was going on. Even DURING D-Day, Hitler was 100% convinced (as we'd intended that he should be) that the Normandy invasion was merely a feint, and the moment he moved troops to deal with it, the REAL attack would come, near Calais, using a totally fictional Army Group created simply to confuse the Bosh. Churchill had a very dry wit, I'm sure that he must have found confusing Hitler very entertaining (as well as saving a huge number of lives).

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