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Young Winston is a 1972 British film covering the early years of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, based in particular on his book, My Early Life: A Roving Commission. 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.

Young Winston
Young Winston.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Attenborough
Produced byCarl Foreman
Written byCarl Foreman
StarringSimon Ward
Robert Shaw
Anne Bancroft
Anthony Hopkins
John Mills
Music byAlfred Ralston (includes original music and his arrangements of works by Edward Elgar)[1]
CinematographyGerry Turpin
Edited byKevin Connor
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
28 July 1972 (UK)
10 October 1972 (USA)
Running time
157 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$2,150,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[2]

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.[3]




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.[4]

In 1967 Foreman announced James Fox would play Churchill.[5]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Release on VHS and DVDEdit

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.


  1. ^ IMDb credits
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  3. ^ "NY Times: Young Winston". NY Times. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
  4. ^ Young Winston promotional booklet
  5. ^ James Fox to Play Young Churchill Florabel Muir:. The Washington Post, Times Herald 14 Aug 1967: D11.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit