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Film / The Winslow Boy

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1999 film adaptation of the play by Terence Rattigan, written for the screen and directed by David Mamet. A young boy, Arthur Winslow, is expelled from the Royal Naval College for theft. When he maintains his innocence, his father (Sir Nigel Hawthorne) does whatever it takes to clear his family name. Caught up in the battle are Mrs. Winslow (Gemma Jones) and the Winslow's feminist daughter Catherine (Rebecca Pidgeon). The Winslows turn to the expensive, conservative, and controversial attorney Sir Robert Morton (Jeremy Northam), and they proceed to take England by storm with the slogan, "Let Right be Done."

The film contains examples of:

  • Arc Words: "Let Right Be Done."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ronnie is cleared of the charges against him and romance may blossom between Sir Robert and Catherine, but the Winslow family has lost much of its wealth and Sir Robert has had to decline appointment as Chief Lord Justice.
  • Casting Gag: The man who plays a lord in one of the House of Commons scenes played the original Winslow Boy in the 40s film of the play.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: See Lured into a Trap.
  • The Edwardian Era: The setting, with plenty of foreshadowing for World War One and England's suffragette movement providing a major subplot.
  • Honor Before Reason: The sensible thing to do is just to suck it up, and accept life is unfair at times. However, in defence of honour the Winslow family take on the entire British establishment and press despite it wrecking their finances and dragging their name through the mud to get there.
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  • It Will Never Catch On: Morton urges Catherine to drop the hopeless cause of women's suffrage. After he's just won the Winslow's "hopeless cause" by getting the charge against her brother dropped.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sir Robert.
  • Love at First Sight: The 1999 film has a moment where Catherine meets Sir Robert for the first time and he's clearly struck by her, watching her intently in a mirror when he's out of her line of sight.
  • Lured into a Trap: Sir Robert does this with Ronnie during his initial questioning. Out of the blue, he asks Ronnie when Elliott put the postal order in his locker. Ronnie replies that he doesn't know, and that he didn't even know Elliott had a postal order. A few minutes later, Sir Robert suggests to Ronnie that he stole the postal order as a joke, intending to give it back later, but when things got serious he lost his nerve. Ronnie denies this. Sir Robert remarks later to Catherine that a guilty person would have seized on the latter explanation as the lesser of two evils, and it's implied that, had Ronnie known when Elliott put the postal order in his locker, he would either have blurted out the right time or deliberately lied about it, rather than flat-out deny all knowledge of it.
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  • Serious Business: The whole thing is over a five shilling postal order.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The play and film are loosely inspired by the real-life case of George Archer-Shee.
  • Wham Line: "Oh yes. The boy is plainly innocent. I accept the brief."