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The film was based on the book My Early Life: A Roving Commission by Winston Churchill. The first part of the film covers Churchill's unhappy schooldays, up to the death of his father. The second half covers his service as a cavalry officer in India and the Sudan, during which he takes part in the cavalry charge at Omdurman, his experiences as a war correspondent in the Second Boer War, during which he is captured and escapes, and his election to Parliament at the age of 26.
Churchill was played by Simon Ward, who was relatively unknown at the time but was supported by a distinguished cast including Robert Shaw (as Lord Randolph Churchill), John Mills (as Lord Kitchener), Anthony Hopkins (as David Lloyd George) and Anne Bancroft as Churchill's mother Jennie. Other actors included Patrick Magee, Robert Hardy, Ian Holm, Edward Woodward and Jack Hawkins.
The film was written and produced by Carl Foreman and directed by Richard Attenborough. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction (Donald M. Ashton, Geoffrey Drake, John Graysmark, William Hutchinson, Peter James) and Best Costume Design.
- Robert Shaw as Lord Randolph Churchill
- Anne Bancroft as Lady Randolph Churchill
- Simon Ward as Winston Churchill
- Jack Hawkins as J.E.C.Welldon
- Ian Holm as George E. Buckle
- Anthony Hopkins as David Lloyd George
- Patrick Magee as General Bindon Blood
- Edward Woodward as Captain Aylmer Haldane
- John Mills as General Kitchener
- Peter Cellier as Captain 35th Sikhs
- Ronald Hines as Adjutant 35th Sikhs
- Pat Heywood as Mrs. Everest (Elizabeth Ann Everest)
- Laurence Naismith as Lord Salisbury
- Basil Dignam as Joseph Chamberlain
- Jeremy Child as Austen Chamberlain
- Robert Hardy as Headmaster
Carl Foreman was invited to meet Winston Churchill after he had seen and enjoyed Foreman's 1961 production of The Guns of Navarone. At their meeting Churchill suggested that his book My Early Life would make an excellent film.
Foreman was impressed by Richard Attenborough's Oh! What a Lovely War and at first wanted him to both direct and play Lord Randolph Churchill; Attenborough declined the latter offer.Template:Citationneeded
The film was made in Morocco and the United Kingdom, with several scenes shot at Penwyllt and Coelbren, Powys, on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, and the scene where Churchill learnt to ride at the Cavalry Riding School building at Beaumont Barracks in Aldershot.Template:Citationneeded
Release on VHS and DVD
As of July 2009, the longest edition available on DVD is Young Winston: Special Edition at 146 minutes, cut from the original U.S. theatrical release which was 157 minutes. VHS tapes cut the film to just 124 minutes. The fully unabridged version is currently unavailable on DVD.
- IMDb credits
- "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
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- Young Winston promotional booklet
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